by Aaron Ayscough
A Whiter Shade of Pale: Filtration in White Wine
Explaining why he preferred white wine with oysters, the influential Beaujolais oenologist and négoçiant Jules Chauvet once reasoned, “Oysters are easily eaten, white wine is consumed that way too. They are in the same line, if you will. Both of them have no body.”
The same absence of body makes it more difficult to discern, in white wines, what in red wines is apparent to experienced tasters: fining or filtration or both. These processes, which on a red wine leave an indelible trace on its profile, often pass unnoticed on white wines.
In the natural winemaking community, where the ethos of ‘add nothing – take nothing away’ ostensibly reigns, filtration of white wines is a subject on which many winemakers turn out to be surprisingly agnostic.
“I quite like filtration, on the whites,” says Bertrand Jousset, whose natural Montlouis chenins are mainstays at many Paris natural wine bars, from Septime La Cave to Café de la Nouvelle Mairie.