Red NOSO2 added
Our first “no sulphur added” wine. Why do it? For us, we did it because the wine was there.
We didn’t set out with a deliberate intention to make and bottle a wine without the
addition of sulphur. Our winemaking practice is to make wine with a minimal amount of
interference, additions and subtractions, especially so with our Wayward Child wines.
Sulphur is an addition, and often quite an important one. It’s not a particularly modern
So what does it taste like?
Like riding a motorbike without a helmet and your mouth wide open through an
explosion of the ripest most flavourful blueberries on earth. Sweet and exhilarating. Turn
around and go back to lick the remaining splatter off the tarmac. That’s the finish. Long and
sweet memories with a hint of tar. Tar is the reductive note that gives this wine an edge.
What does sulphur do in winemaking?
Sulphur slows oxidation and can even reverse oxidative characters. Various components in
grape juice and wine are prone to oxidation. Alcohol itself, for example, can oxidise into
acetones, acetates and acetic acid (vinegar). Colour in wine changes with oxidisation and
primary fruit flavours are diminished. Oxidisation, (and it’s opposite, “reductive processing”)
can be integrated into winemaking for particular styles and outcomes. So oxidisation can be
bad, but it’s not always. But we digress.
The use of sulphur is only one of a variety of methods of controlling oxidisation. Others
include, the exclusion or control of exposure to oxygen at all stages in the processing,
refrigeration to slow the oxidative rate, speed of processing grapes after harvest and crush
etc. Basically, meticulous attention to detail and constant care for the wine through the
process is in many ways an alternative to using sulphur at various stages in the process.
Sulphur, as well as impacting rates of oxidation, has other impacts. It has anti- biological,
anti-microbial properties. It can, depending on degrees of sensitivity, have health impacts
(please note that Sulphur use in wine is minimal and well below health impacting thresh
holds for most folk). Sulphur also has an impact on the qualities and characteristics of the
Sulphur also has an effect of slowing the aging of wine in bottle. In fact, in more commercial
wine making the equation is simple. The longer that consumers are encouraged to consider
the wine suitable for aging, then the more sulphur is added to guarantee that outcome. A
tool to ensure a self-fulfilling prophecy. Sulphur is often considered by winemakers to be
essential to slowing the aging process of wine.
When sulphur is added to the wine it shuts down aromas and flavours, often to the point
that the wine will never fully return to the vibrancy and personality that it had prior.
Reducing the use of added sulphur, in this case to zero, allows for a different expression. It’s
more vibrant and alive. More raw even.
So, all of that said, why this wine?
Well, it all started with a phone call in December when barrel tasting in preparation for
bottling was taking place. “Ahhh, we have something here that you might want to see… I
think I’ve got a wine that doesn’t need ANYTHING to be done to put it into bottle. Don’t
think it needs any sulphur at all. You interested?”
Obviously the answer was a resounding yes, and so NOSO.
Perhaps the most pertinent questions relate to what made this that little bit different to
encourage us to do as we have?
1.In barrels, this wine was just so expressive and complete. Colour was ridiculously vibrant
and deep, and there was an immense volume of vibrant, jump out of the glass, aromatics,
and juiciness. It seemed a crying shame to do anything that would subdue the expressive
character of the wine.
2. The things mentioned in part 1 are all indicators of great intensity of flavour and extract,
and of an absence of any oxidative impact. Add to that, good amounts of the right sort of
tannins and acidity and you have the complete package. All signs that the wine doesn’t need
3 Can I just say again, the vibrancy and volume of flavour was just unbelievable?
4. Oh, and one more thing too… that oxidative / reductive equation thing, there was just a
hint of aroma characteristics that would hint that the wine was just slightly to the oxygen
reduced side of the equation. A good starting place for a wine that is going into bottle
without sulphur additions as it would a have a similar neutralising effect on any uptake of
oxygen in the bottling process as the addition of sulphur would provide.