Is clean natural?

If a winery wants to make organic wine, it must follow the rule book and open up its vineyards and production processes to outside inspection. Once approved, the coveted back-label can be stuck on the bottles.

Experience shows that using very limited amounts of permitted pesticides and fertilisers, less than the levels normally employed, produces wines that are as near biological as possible. However, if the winemaker prefers not to bother with form-filling and official checks, the easy option is to forget 'organic' and market the wine as 'natural'.

This of course means nothing at all, yet there are wine critics who praise such wines as being more 'honest' than the regular commercial varieties. In any case, although unfiltered wine may be more 'natural' than the other 95%, does it taste better? It usually costs more. Would we instinctively buy butter or sugar in the supermarket labelled 'natural' as the best option? Probably not.

We should not confuse 'natural' wine with 'clean' wine, the new trend, although there are no official requirements for either. Producers can put what they want on the label.

So why not sign up a celebrity, like Cameron Diaz. But does it work? Her brand, Avaline, was voted 'least favourite celebrity white wine' in a Zoom survey recently. Worse, the use of the word 'clean' is a nasty little trick implying most other wines are by implication dirty.

It may be assumed that clean wine is automatically vegan, while in fact gelatin, egg whites, and other animal byproducts are always present.