The Power of Reduction and Oxidation in Wine, for a better understanding what reductive strengt or anti-oxidative power works in wine.
When we switched our soil work to organic, the thing we observed was an increase in reduction potential in our wines. It was back in vintage 2005 to 2007, when we had to learn from this topic. And also our customers had to learn about this topic.
Sadly, wine science around the globe is not so deep on these topics as every wine and every soil acts differently and a small change (foliage treatment) in the vineyard can lead to a huge impact. So the trials have to be made by the weinbauer (vigneron).
Lees and slow growing vineyard with thick sinks are the sources of reductive strength.Reduction can make a wine ageable for centuries, see Burgundian wines.
The taste of „minerality“, „vibration“ or however you call it are best preserved by reduction. Often Reduction in wine is also interpreted as Minerality. This to word in wine have many things in common. As both come from vineyard work and spontanious fermentation.
What increases reduction potential in wine.
Living soils, slow growing vines are the most important tools in natural wine. Grapes from such sites are very stable and have a high reduction power, so you can get „mineral taste“ even from loamy soils.
Soil with less oxygen in the soil (loamy) produces grapes with more resveratrol (also more violet colour) and have so more reduction strength.
Long time on the lees (connection to the birth of the wine) keeps the youth in the wine.
Oxidation. It might sound strange but oxidation at a certain time (for example a barrel during malolactic) will lead to more reduction power later in the wine. More infos you find in Clark Smith´s book „Postmodern Winemaking“.
Closures. Screw caps can keep wine more reductive. (thats one of the reason why we switched back to cork, a blog article is on next about this topic)
Biodynamic view on this topic is that reduction is connected to concentration (looking back as mentioned in the painting), so the days after the 21 of June and new moon are symbols for this.
Increase of oxidation in wine:
open soil (oxygen in the soil of the vineyard), so decreased living in the soil. (Interesting question for us here: where is the border, how much natural herbs and grass can the vine stand against, how low can the yield go, this is more a question of finance, but is crucial for winemaking look at all natural winemakers around the world nearly nobody had to invest most of them got the vineyard and the winery from former generation, i know this is hard topics but i would be very interested in your view about this. feel free to post a comment below.)
grapes hanging in the sun
adding of cultured yeast, yeast food, enzymes,….
filtration always increases oxidation, the removal of the lees will get the wine into the direction of oxidation.
small barrels (surface according to volume is important)
biodynamic symbols for expansion: spring stands for expansion in the vineyard, and the mirror of the sun (growth in the night) the full moon.
What we learned so far:
we can use this reductive strength to make wines without sulphur (we even had to decrease sulphur, otherwise the wine would be undrinkable for ten years because of reduction).
Wines with this power need time. Time to age, time to develop in the glass, basically time to taste. Time of understanding.
We need reduction in natural winemaking as it is one of this great gifts that nature provides to make wine unique in beverages.
Our goal is the balance between these two reactions in wine. I need both of them.
A balanced vineyard, right soil work, and green management, will produce balanced grapes (skin thickness, nutrition in the grapes), with such grapes this two reactions will happening in the barrel on its own.
I am Franz Weninger “Winzer” with passion. You want to know more about wine and philosophy, subscribe now: