Organically Produced Wines

Posted on: 25 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Red, white and rosé\; who cares so long as they’re green!

Not so long ago, if you’d told a winemaker that their wines were green they’d have taken it as a fairly stiff criticism.

Describing a wine as such was to point out that the grapes that went to make it weren’t fully ripe when they were pressed or that they didn’t know what they were doing. Either way the reply you’d have been likely to get would have been as sharp as the wine you’d just dumped into the spittoon! 

These days though things are quite different and winemakers will happily spend hours telling you just how green their wines are, and the inordinate lengths they’ve gone to make them so.

Yes, as in so many other industries green is the new black, and, on the evidence of my recent trawl through organic wines, this is one wine scribbler who says good thing too! 

In certain regions of the world, most notably France, Spain and latterly California and South America, organic viticulture has been around for years, centuries even in the Old World. This was partly as that’s simply the way they’d always done it and partly because, until comparatively recently, they couldn’t afford to buy in chemical fertilizers.

In the New World, particularly in the US, their route to organic was more out of hippy-style soil respect and the not-so-hippy-style discovery that the wines tasted better being organic, which meant they could charge more for them.

Whichever route they used to go green, there’s no doubt that organically produced wines have a lot going for them.  Vines, unlike many crops, thrive on the poorest of soils and actually perform worse if the environment they are grown in is too rich or artificially bolstered.

They also do well in hot, windy climates where pests and diseases can easily be controlled by natural means.  And as it’s generally acknowledged that great wine comes from minimal human intervention, well lets just say the road to wine glory has been coloured green!

Ah, I hear you say, all this is all very well and rosy, but what about the cost? Surely organic wines, like so many other eco-friendly goodies, may not cost planet Earth but when you come to buy them they’ll cost you the earth.

Happily that needn’t be the case. With the wine market as competitive as it is, and with organic production being in many cases cheaper, you can enjoy the best in green wine without going into the red as these readily available crackers will show you.

First up is a pair of equally delicious, but utterly different, whites. The first is the Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay (£6.83  Loaded with juicy peach, apple and watermelon fruit, the lack of oak allows the fine mineral and citrus notes to shine making it brilliant with simply roasted free-range chicken or pan fried white fish. 

Completely different in style, yet no less compelling, is the Reyneke Sauvignon (Majestic from £9.99). This is Sauvignon at its most powerful and delivers barrel loads of crisp, gooseberry and green apple fruit alongside touches of peppers and mint.  Glorious!

Fancy a rosé? Then look no further than the Val de Serena (Averys £5.99). This Chilean cracker combines Cabernet and Syrah to give a deep coloured wine that is rich and powerful, yet refreshing and clean. With its weight of crisp red and blackcurrants, mint and pepper tones, it is (was!) superb with roast lamb and yet would make a great spring-sipper all by itself.

Finishing with a flourish, I’ve picked out two classic reds. The first is the Chapoutier Côteaux du Tricastin 2006 (Majestic £6.99)  Crafted in the south of France’s Rhone Valley, this marvellously full, intense and satisfying wine has been produced by one of the region’s greatest producers and will stand up to the fullest of cheeses and heartiest of red meats with ease.

Lastly we have the wonderfully named, Gemtree Tadpole Shiraz (Oddbins £6.99).  This sweetly toned, spicy Shiraz is everything you’d expect from a good Aussie Shiraz and with its crisp acidity and lashings of blackcurrant fruit, it’d be a handy thing to have a supply of come BBQ season.

Well that’s it from me for now. I hope you’ll give some of these wines a go and that you’ll discover, as I have, that it’s good to be green!

More soon!


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