Les Grappes magazine with le parisien
The magazine Les
Grappes & Le Parisien
Everything you always wanted to know about wine but never dared to ask

We call an input a product that is brought to land and crops. And which is not naturally present in the soil. They are added to soils to increase and improve yields. We find inputs in wine because the winegrowers put them in their soils. In order to promote the growth of vines, prevent contamination and therefore increase their production.

Some examples of inputs:

  • fertilizer products such as fertilizer
  • plant protection products such as pesticides
  • growth promoters or retardants

As far as viticulture is concerned, some inputs are authorised but depending on the type of wine we will not find the same inputs and in the same quantity. These inputs are regulated, and most importantly, since January 1, 2006, all inputs must be traceable. All winegrowing holdings must keep a register of their phytosanitary treatments.

If we classify wines according to the permitted input mix, conventional wines are in first place in terms of quantity.

Conventional wines

It is also for conventional wine that the highest dose of sulphur is allowed. Sulphur (SO2) is an input used to stop the development of bacteria and yeasts, avoiding further fermentation and sterilization of the wine. It is used to sanitize, protect and therefore preserve wine. Without sulphur dioxide, bacteria grow and can transform wine into vinegar. For conventional wines, sulphur dioxide is allowed up to 200 mg/L for white wines and 150 g/L for red wines.

Organic wines

In second place we find organic wines. Since 2012, the authorised dose of sulphur dioxide has been set at 100 mg/L for red wines and 150 mg/L for white wines. It is also since 2012 that we can call some wines organic wines. For the elaboration of these wines, the winegrowers do not need any synthetic pesticides. Before 2012, there were no organic wines but wines from organic farming.

Biodynamic wines

Demeter wine is a biodynamic wine. For those who wonder what a biodynamic wine is, it is made with respect for the environment, and biodynamics guarantees the health of the soil and plants to provide a healthy diet for living things. Demeter is the only brand that certifies to consumers that a wine is biodynamic and respects strict and international specifications based on the European organic specifications but with fewer inputs. For Demeter wines, the authorised dose of sulphate is 70 mg/L for red wines and 90 mg/L for white wines.

Natural wines

Finally, here are the natural wines. These wines are the ones with the lowest inputs but just because they are called natural wines does not mean they have none. Natural wine is the strictest in terms of inputs because it does not allow any inputs except sulphur dioxide, which is essential for the conservation of the wine. There are no synthetic pesticides or inputs. It is found at 30 mg/L for red wines and 40 mg/L for whites.

We can therefore see that even the most natural wines still have inputs such as sulphur dioxide. It is also more difficult for winegrowers to ensure a good harvest when they do not use any inputs, zero inputs are not always profitable. Especially since these inputs are dangerous to our health only if the quantities are too large and uncontrolled. It should be remembered, however, that the quantities of different inputs tend to decrease.

Lou Dubois for Les Grappes

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