According to the Association des Champagnes Biologiques, only 600 of the 33,000 hectares of vines in Champagne are certified organic, or in the process of certification.
That’s a tiny percentage. The caveat is that not all producers seek certification, citing cost and principles as reasons. Some larger Champagne houses have begun shifting towards organics, and also biodynamics, but it is a gradual process – particularly bearing in mind that many buy in grapes from different growers.
Still, all of this can make your search for fully organic Champagne a long and weary one. Luckily, Decanter’s tastings team has tasted several over the last few months. You can find our top choices below.
A word about sulphites
EU rules set lower maximum limits for sulphites in organic wines than in conventional wines.
There are naturally variations in levels used, although many organic and biodynamic producers attempt to minimise sulphur dioxide use wherever possible.
Some organic, biodynamic and ‘natural’ winemakers produce ‘no added sulphur’ wines.
All wine has some level of sulphur dioxide, which is in small amounts during fermentation.
Winemakers traditionally add extra sulphur dioxide to kill off naturally occurring yeasts on the grapes and in the cellar. It is also added at bottling to act as an anti-oxidant, to help preserve the wine as it’s shipped throughout the world and, potentially, then stored for many months or years.
While sulphites must be listed on bottle labels as a potential allergen, some experts have said that there is no proven link between sulphites and headaches.