What is preservative-free wine?
You may have heard the term thrown around in recent years as this style of winemaking has increased in popularity, but for most of us, there is still some grey area as to what preservative-free means.
Put simply, preservative-free wines are wines made without any added preservatives (most notably, sulphur dioxide) in the vineyard or winery.
In the vineyard, preservatives like sulphur are used to minimise the risk of disease, pests and extreme weather. In the winery, they are used to safeguard the wine from oxidation, which can cause discolouration and change the primary flavours of the wine before bottling.
As someone who suffers from a sensitivity to sulphur, David wanted to create a solution for wine lovers like himself looking for premium wine without additives. As David details:
“That’s what our Bio-logical range is for. These wines have absolutely no sulphur and are for people like me who have a problem with preservatives, which can stem from skin or sinus allergies or in my case, bronchial.”
The importance of good quality grapes
At Lowe, winemaking begins in the vineyard by producing high-quality grapes. In preservative-free winemaking, grape quality becomes even more crucial.
When we use organic and biodynamic vineyard practices, it produces healthier soil and higher quality fruit, which in turn requires less intervention in the winemaking process. David explains why this is particularly important for our Bio-logical range.
“There is nothing to hide behind in preservative-free wines. Typically sulphur (i.e. preservatives) is added to wines as it protects the grapes from oxidation throughout the winemaking process which in turn affects flavour. So without added sulphur, we have to be very careful to keep oxygen contact to an absolute minimum from the moment you harvest, all the way through fermentation, until the wine is safety bottled.”
The nature of minimal-intervention winemaking means we can’t easily interfere once the winemaking process begins. Healthy grapes from the vineyard give us the best shot.
Once the grapes have made it safely to the winery, the most important task becomes minimising contact with oxygen – no easy feat! David and the team use several biological tricks in the winery, like reducing the activity of oxygen by keeping our wine vessels full and cold, to ensure that the wine comes into minimal contact with the outside air throughout its journey. Once bottled, a screw cap is favoured over a cork to guarantee the wine is sealed tight.
The Bio-logical range
Choosing to make wine without the use of preservatives is a labour of love, but in David’s eye, well worth the reward.
Our current Bio-logical wine range includes a 2021 Shiraz and 2022 Rosé that bear all the health ticks; preservative-free, organic, biodynamic, vegan, and in the case of the Shiraz, unfiltered & unfined. As for the taste?
“The rosé is a light pink blush, with a fresh, crisp flavour - the ideal spring drink,” says David, “the Bio-logical Shiraz, on the other hand, is vibrant and fruit forward, with scents of blueberry and just a touch of pepper.”
If you’d like to read more about David’s journey to organics & biodynamics, and their importance in making preservative free wine, check out the article in WellBeing Magazine here where David goes into more detail.
Or stop by our cellar door any day of the week to come try these new releases for yourself. Saturday’s ‘Lowe Show‘ premium tasting is the perfect opportunity for you to learn from the master himself, taste the wines and get a guided tour around the vineyards & winery to see where it all happens.
Words by Nicole Bruno & David Lowe. Video by Hannah Edensor. Images by Tim White