We call input a product that is brought to the land and crops. And which is not naturally present in the soil. It is added to the soil to increase and improve yields. Inputs are found in wine because winemakers put them in their soils. In order to favour the growth of the vines, prevent contaminations and thus increase their production.
As far as viticulture is concerned, certain inputs are authorized 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 wineries must keep records of their phytosanitary treatments.
If we establish a classification of wines according to the authorized input dosage, conventional wines are in first place in terms of quantity.
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, preventing further fermentation and sterilization of the wine. It is used to sanitize, protect and therefore preserve the wine. Without sulphur dioxide, bacteria grow and can transform the 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.
In second position we find organic wines. Since 2012, the authorized dose of sulphur dioxide is set at 100 mg/L for red wines and 150 mg/L for white wines. It is also since 2012 that we can call certain wines organic wines. For the elaboration of these wines, the winemakers do not use any synthetic pesticides. Before 2012, there were not really organic wines but wines from organic agriculture.
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 healthy food for living beings. Demeter is the only brand that certifies to consumers that a wine is biodynamic and respects strict international specifications based on the European organic specifications but allowing less inputs. For Demeter wines the authorised sulphate dose is 70 mg/L for red wines and 90 mg/L for white wines.
Last but not least, here are the natural wines. These wines are the ones with the least inputs but it is not because they are called natural wines that they have none. Natural wine is the strictest as far as inputs are concerned because it does not allow any except for 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.
So we can see that even the most natural wines still have inputs such as sulphur dioxide. It is also more difficult for winemakers to ensure a good harvest when they use no inputs, zero input is not always profitable. Especially since these inputs are dangerous for our health only if the quantities are too large and uncontrolled. It should be remembered, however, that the quantities of various inputs tend to decrease.
Lou Dubois for Les Grappes