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SULPHUR DIOXIDE IN WINE: the great debate

There was a time, not so long ago, when making quality wines without adding sulphur dioxide (SO ² ) was widely considered close to impossible, largely the preserve of mavericks. Inspired by the philosophies of natural wine guru Jules Chauvet, a small group of independent-minded producers such as Pierre Overnoy in Jura, Marcel Lapierre in Beaujolais, Gramenon in the Rhône and Frank Cornelissen in Sicily sought to relearn ways of making wine without the need to add SO ² .

Today, as more and more consumers seek out ‘minimal intervention’ wines and the natural wine movement becomes increasingly mainstream, so-called ‘no sulphites added’ (NSA) wine is made all over the world. But the issue remains divisive. At one end of the spectrum are figures such as Champagne’s enfant terrible Anselme Selosse, arguing that SO ² ‘lobotomises wine’; at the other, Monika Christmann, former president of the International Vine & Wine Organisation (OIV), warning of deteriorating wine stability caused by a ‘downwards spiral’ in the use of SO ² in winemaking.

Sulphur dioxide is naturally produced by yeasts during fermentation, so

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