News of Organic Industry

The term “organic wine” allowed from 2012

The new directive on the ageing of organically produced wine was presented at the recently ended BioFach in Nürnberg. From now on, organic wine can officially use this name.

The dispute on limiting the use of sulphur had prevented agreement for a long time.The term “organic wine” is permissible from the 2012 vintage and replaces the previous description “wine made from organically grown grapes”. The use of the EU organic label is not only allowed for organic wine in future – but will be mandatory. Wines produced during the conversion phase are not permitted to use the label, however.

The new directive prohibits the use of both the enzyme lysozyme and sorbic acid by organic wine growers. De-alchoholization and desulphurization are also banned. Controversy has long surrounded the permitted levels of sulphur in wine and the fact that no agreement was reached in 2010 was due to the proposed levels of sulphur. The compromise finally reached was approved by 13 countries. Only Austria abstained.

In the new regulation, the use of sulphites is dependent on the residual sugar. In the case of wines with less than 2g of residual sugar, the permitted level is 50mg per litre lower than in wine produced from conventionally grown grapes. If the wine contains more than 2g of residual sugar, the permitted level is only 30mg lower per litre. “Dry red wine is the biggest challenge we’ll face,” predicts Lotte Pfeffer-Müller, Chairwoman of Ecovin, and adds: “We’ve first got to check that the measuring procedures are the same in all countries in the EU.”

BIO AUSTRIA continues to be critical of the reduction in the permitted levels of sulphites. They fear that many organically grown varieties of grape could be excluded from being labelled organic in future because they exceed the sulphur level. Wine importer Peter Riegel welcomes the agreement reached, even though he finds the new permitted levels “rather optimistic, especially for dry red wine”. On the other hand, he regards labelling with the EU organic logo as an opportunity: “It’s easier for the consumer to recognize organic wine.”

Michael Willkomm, Managing Director of the Peter Mertes winery in Bernkastel is relaxed about the agreement: “I don’t see any problems in introducing the new directive – not much will change for us. We market both German and imported organic wines, and the organic logo will make it even simpler for us.”
New permitted levels of sulphite in organic wine

Maximum content of SO2 in mg per litre

Red wine ≤ 2g residual sugar 100
Red wine ≥ 2g residual sugar 120
White wine ≤ 2g residual sugar 150
White wine ≥ 2g residual sugar 170


2012.03.07             Wolfram Römmelt


Tags:   organic , wine 

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