Natural & Lo-Fi Wine
What is Lo-Fi wine? You may have heard the term ‘natural wine’ before… ‘natural wine’ has become something of a catch all for a school of hard-core winemaking that eschews many common modern winemaking interventions. By and large, this means either organic or biodynamic agriculture, indigenous yeasts (preferably those from the vineyard), little (if any) oak, no additions - such as acidification, and as little sulfur as humanly possible.
We believe term 'natural' in relation to wine is inherently problematic... It infers that wine made in any other way is not 'natural' and somehow less authentic or true. We think this is far from the case. It also implies that wine (a product which is grown and made only through human intervention) can even be natural in the first place. Furthermore, natural wine has got a pretty bad rap generally and the term turns off a lot of consumers. There are at least half a dozen kiwi producers whose wines are regarded as the best of the best who just happen to make so-called 'natural wine' but would never use the term to describe their own wines.
What then? There are lots of other descriptions the natural wine community use: real, raw, living... All of these have their own problems. We prefer the term 'lo-fi'. This term gives us more room to acknowledge real sustainability both in the vineyard and the winery. It also allows us to support producers into moving from more intensive agriculture and winemaking to much less intensive without an arbitrary, binary divide between wines that are natural and wines that are not. If you want a full explanation of this you can read this here.
So what does lo-fi wine mean to us?
It means winegrowing with integrity. It is much more than sustainability. It's a holistic approach to growing, making and even selling wine in the most authentic way possible. Likewise, hand picking and dry farming are ideals to be celebrated.
Organic/biodynamic viticulture is the ideal but for us, it is not the be-all and end-all. Where wines are grown organically and biodynamically we have taken pains to acknowledge this but we also want to actively encourage producers (through supporting their wines) to move in this direction.
Next, we have the winemaking. Nothing added and nothing taken away is our mantra. What does this mean in a practical sense? Well, fermentation on indigenous yeasts, ideally those cultivated from the vineyard, is non-negotiable. Next comes some less obvious stuff... No adjustments: no chaptalization, acidification, tannin additions or overt use of oak. Certainly no mechanical interventions such as reverse-osmosis and micro-oxidation. While none of these techniques are ipso-facto wrong or even problematic, all of these to a greater or lesser extent interfere with a grape's ability to convey a sense of place and a sense of itself. Likewise, lo-fi means unfined with minimal if any filtration. We can put up with a little haze if it means the wine is more vital and alive.
So... what about sulfur dioxide? Firstly, it does occur naturally in the winemaking process and secondly, we are nothing if not pragmatic. We would much rather drink an amazing wine that has been stabilised with a lick of sulfur dioxide as it was bottled than to wax lyrical about how amazing a wine could have been without it. We love wines that have had absolutely no preservatives added at all but know that this is not realistic for every producer. We are especially proud of the close-to-home examples of these wines and make sure any preservative-free imports are shipped chilled (as you can imagine this adds a bit more to the price of a bottle of wine).