A member of one of France’s far-right political parties is trying to launch a consultation which will create a blueprint for a legal definition of natural wines.
In a proposal submitted to the National Assembly earlier this month, Marie Franche-Lorho — a member of far-right French party Ligue du Sud — said there is “a historic French will” to produce and maintain a certain standard for wines “produced via healthy methods that respect the vineyards and the earth.”
Natural, organic and low-intervention wines have grown in popularity in recent years, but producers and critics warn that natural wines suffer from a negative reputation because of a lack of regulation. Critics such as US-born Robert Parker have gone as far as calling natural wines, which are traditionally made with organically grapes and without sulphites, an “undefined scam“.
“The definitions are multiple,” Franche-Lorho’s statement said “which does not protect the 500 French winemakers considered as natural producers.”
Her proposal outlines a number of criteria producers may need to meet to be able to call their wines “natural” on labels. These range from manual harvesting and using indigenous yeasts, to restricting the use of sulphites at different ranges for red and white wines, as well as an “organic or biodynamic culture in the vineyard.”
The document draws on regulations already implemented by France’s Natural Wines Association (AVN)
The right-wing politician cited the 1907 Anti-Chaptalisation Act — which restricted prodocers’ ability to add sugar to wine grapes to increase alcohol content — as a precedent for French winemakers’ desire to “defend natural wines.”
If the motion is approved, a 30-strong committee will be tasked with creating a legal definition for the category.
Natural wine, it said, should differ from organic wines as the category “extends its “natural” ambition to the entire production process: during planting, tillage, care of the vines, harvesting, vinification, ageing and bottling.”