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Fining & Filtration : Taboo?
Our first experience with Natural wine was a hazy experience (We mean that in the best way possible). The wines appeared to be cloudy and murky with sediments which looked like yeast and grape skins. Eventually, after sipping this lovely juice we came to realize that this haze created a certain personality in wine which we had previously never experienced before. So why are some wines cloudy and others not?
Wine In its innocent form is always cloudy. At the time of fermentation dead yeast cells and sediment are all part of the wine. Due to industrialization and modern wine making techniques, Winemakers started to clarify wines to make them more presentable and appealing to those who find the ruffles around the corners too much of a challenge to accept.
Fining is the process where a substance (fining agent) is added to the wine to create an adsorbent, enzymatic or ionic bond with the suspended particles, producing larger molecules and larger particles that will precipitate out of the wine more readily and rapidly.
Unlike filtration, which can only remove particulates (such as dead yeast cells and grape fragments), fining can remove soluble substances such as polymerized tannins, coloring phenols and proteins. Many substances have historically been used as fining agents, including dried blood powder, but today there are two general types of fining agents — organic compounds and solid/mineral materials.
While fining clarifies wine by binding to suspended particles and precipitating out as larger particles, filtration works by passing the wine through a filter medium that captures particles larger than the medium's holes. Complete filtration may require a series of filtering through progressively finer filters. Many white wines require the removal of all potentially active yeast and/or lactic acid bacteria if they are to remain reliably stable in bottle, and this is usually now achieved by fine filtration.
So the question here is, to clarify or not? Many Natural winemakers (us too!) believe that clarification removes certain characteristics from the wine. Imagine Cindy Crawford without her mole. The mouth feel of a clarified wine and a non-clarified wine is as much of a difference between sky and earth. Also, the use of animal products in wine production is a no-no and completely undesirable. Though light filtration is a common practice, anything more than that for some wine makers is sin.
When all is said and done, winemaking is like art, some prefer Kadinsky and some prefer Matisse. Its all about the approach to the style of wine making and the philosophy the winemaker is applying to his produce. Though we cringe at the sight of a clear wine, we also don’t see a hazy wine as wine with natural fault, but we view it as the way wine was always supposed to be made. No Fault at all. If a wine maker is going to take so much time to farm biodynamically, the wine making process should also resemble the profound love he/she has for the land. Like us Humans, it the roses and its thorns to make us who we are, so why not wine?
Check out some of our unfiltered wines, you won’t regret it :