We are ever so grateful to Mother Earth for her huge bounty of grapes we so enjoy throughout the year! So in honor of Earth Day, which is just around the corner on April 22nd, we thought we would pay homage all month long and devote this month’s Pick 24 to some very delicious and not-to-be-missed Organic, Sustainable and Biodynamic wines. You probably have heard about such wines, but may have wondered, what do the terms really mean? And further doubted, do these wineries actually produce great wine that I want to drink? If so, sit back and we’ll set the record straight and perhaps introduce you to a whole new world of wine…
So what is an organic wine? It is a wine made with organically grown grapes – grown without the use of artificial chemical fertilizers and pesticides – and without the use of synthetic additives and sulfites. Organic vineyards are gaining in popularity around the world and we find it very encouraging that incredibly tasty organic wines can be found all around the globe. Some of our favorites start with the Bianchi Winery in Mendoza, Argentina who have utilized advanced farming and production technology to become an industry leader and produce award-winning wines. We are featuring two from this winery: Valentin Bianchi Family Malbec 2010, which is rich, elegant and balanced; and Bianchi Cabernet 2010, a delicious wine full of berry, spice, cedar and chocolate that is worth keeping in mind as you roll out the grill for the first time this season. Another amazing international organic wine comes to us via Victoria, Australia from Terlato Chapoutier. It is their Shiraz- Viognier 2010. This has to be one of the BEST BBQ wines around with its big jammy plum flavors, thick tannins, teasing floral hue and black pepper finish. From Europe we have a perennial favorite of ours, and our flagship spring varietal – Green Eyes Grüner Veltliner 2011. There is a good chance you’ve enjoyed this wine in the past, but probably didn’t even know it was organic! Why do we return to this wine every spring? Because of its bright, crisp, lemon-lime flavors and zippy acidity that is very refreshing as the mercury slowly rises.
On the domestic front, out of Willamette Valley, Oregon is Montinore Estates Borealis Northern Whites Blend, which is an intriguing combination of Pinot Gris, Muller Thurgau, Gewürztraminer and Riesling grapes. This wine will surprise you! It is not ooey-gooey sweet, and has a solid, white fruit citrus core with melon-mineral undertones and plenty of acids finishing things off. We would be remiss if we didn’t call out William Fevre Chablis Champs Royaux 2010 as this has got to be one of the most memorable white Burgundy we had ever tried. 2010 was an astounding vintage for the region producing a wine bright with Granny Smith apple fruit, a chalky texture and slight touch of lychee on the finish.
Like organic farming, biodynamic farming also avoids the use of chemicals, but goes a step or two further by incorporating eco-systems within the vineyard, possibly the use of solar power, and may also utilize resources such as astrological or lunar cycles. And a biodynamic wine will not be manipulated with added yeast or acidy. Decidedly it is De Loach Vineyards that captures our attention in this category; and we appreciate their motto: “We do not inherit this land from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Their venture into Biodynamics began in 2008 with the conversion of 17 acres and involved the use of cover crops, the application of biodynamic specific preparations and composts. We also love that they focus on small-lot winemaking and that their passion is Pinot Noir. Their goal of a terroir-driven Pinot Noir is beautifully realized in the De Loach Pinot Noir California 2011; it is extremely elegant and perfumed.
Sustainability is a term used to refer to farmers who may be farming organically or biodynamically but they will also include a range of practices that goes beyond the ecological, to include the economical and socially responsible practices such as natural compost, saving rainwater, preserving natural habitats to keep the wildlife healthy; using hawks to keep rodent outs, bats to keep insects out, etc… In this category we find three from South America: Catena Zapata Cabernet Sauvignon 2010. The Catena family is one of the best producers in Argentina and it certainly shows in this wine with its robust flavors of black currants, cassis, firm tannins and a spicy black pepper finish. Another hailing from Argentina is Antigal Uno Malbec 2009. This is our No. 1 selling Malbec of 2012. It pours dark and inky in the glass with tobacco and leather notes. Dark berry flavors follow with firm but ripe tannins. This is a Malbec not to be missed! And did we mention it was sustainably grown? Finally, by way of Chile, is Casa Lapostolle Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée Alexandré 2010, another V&T favorite that you probably didn’t know had a green designation. At No. 68 on the Wine Spectators Top 100 of 2012, we think this polished wine with its long, savory aftertaste of spice, cured olive and underbrush is a huge, HUGE value.
Domestically speaking, we adore California’s Lang & Reed Cabernet Franc 2010 with its concentrated blueberry, cassis flavors with tobacco and violet tones. The Cab Franc is the ideal red to turn to as the temperature rises. And as we head outdoors we’re taking two more outstanding sustainably-grown wines: Three Saints Steak House Red Wine 2007. This red blend has big flavors of blackberries with chewy tannins and a nice black pepper finish that’ll complement anything coming off the grill, including steak, bison and venison. And Sokol Blosser Evolution a spunky blend of several white grapes including Pinot Gris, Muller-Thurgau, Semillon. It is loaded with delicious flavors of peach, tropical citrus, and spice with something in it for everyone.
So now you know! Perhaps the next step would be to sample some of these delightful Organic, Sustainable and Biodynamic wines. Why don’t you join us for our Pick 24 Release Party where we’re crack open all 24 wines and give you the opportunity to “Try before you Buy”.