One of the most popular new trends in the world of vino is the production and consumption of organic wines. Given the prevalence of organic foods, this development isn’t very surprising. Even if you haven’t been participating in the organic food movement, any wine buff should consider giving organic wines a try. Unlike regular wine, organic wine is made from organic fruits through an organic process and is preserved organically. In other words, organic wine is made from grapes grown using only natural fertilizers and fungicides. Additionally, it is processed, preserved, and stored without the presence of any artificial preservatives or colors.
When we use the term “organic wines” in this article, we are referring to wines which are made with certified organic grapes and which contain a minimal amount of naturally occurring and added sulfites (below 100 parts per million). “Organic wines” comprise two different types of vino. The majority of “organic wines” are made with grapes grown organically and certified by a third party agency and that contain a minimal amount of sulfites (below 100 ppm) added to those occurring naturally. The other type of organic wines are made with grapes grown organically and certified organic, but that also have no added sulfites (no sulfite added (NSA) wine). This kind of organic wine is a bit more confusing to the public, as this vino is often referred to as “natural” or “sulfite-free.” However, a more accurate way to classify these wines is to describe them as those in which no sulfites were added and in which no sulfites could be detected.
According to organic wine expert Adam Morganstern (@adammorganstern) from Organic Wine Journal (@owj), “The main reason anyone would want to choose an organic wine is simply for pleasure. There is no special organic taste–no one should be sipping a wine and saying, ‘Wow, that really tastes organic.’ What an organic winemaker wants, like any other, is to make the best expression of their vineyards as possible, and they simply believe that organic methods are their best way to make that happen.” A great rule of thumb is to always read what the experts have to say before buying.
The world’s most prominent producers of high-quality organic wine are France, Italy, Spain, and the United States. According to Veronique Raskin, founder and CEO of the Organic Wine Company and a specialist in organic wines from these regions since 1980, “when drinking organic wines in moderation, you can expect all of the health benefits usually associated with drinking wine. Additionally, rest assured that you will not be absorbing any pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizer residues.” There are numerous untold environmental benefits to making, promoting, and purchasing organic wines; most importantly, its production does not pollute the air, water, or soil in any significant way and does not endanger the health of the vineyard’s caretakers.
Ms. Raskin’s ancestors purchased Domaine de la Bousquette from the Catholic Church around the time of the French Revolution in 1789, and it has been in the family ever since. This small property is nestled in rocky, pine-filled hills in the Languedoc region, close to the city of Carcassone. Fast forward to 1989, when her brother Michael (the winemaker at that time) decided to create a wine to honor his sister’s pioneering efforts to promote organic viticulture and organic wines in the United States. We strongly recommend you check out the La Bousquette brand, the Prestige, the Tradition, and perhaps most especially, the 2012 Chateau Veronique, a delicious red blend that has been among the vineyard’s top selling wines for 25 years. Chateau Veronique combines 30% carignane, 30% grenache, 20% syrah, and 20% mourvedre, and features “dry, jammy fruit flavors of plum, black cherry, and blackberry [that are] enhanced by hints of black pepper…[this wine is] an excellent match for just about any dish.” Learn more by visiting www.theorganicwinecompany.com or calling 1-888-ECOWINE
Any wine enthusiast should be sure to give organic wine a try, as the benefits of its consumption speak for themselves. If you are already bringing organic food to your table, it is definitely time for organically-grown wines to join the party as well! With all of this in mind, we have listed below some of the best organic wines for your drinking pleasure–so sit back, relax, and enjoy! Contact the winemaker directly to find out who imports foreign wines into the United States and whether they are available in stores or online.
Veronique Raskin founded The Organic Wine Company in 1980, which specializes in vegan, biodynamic, no sulfite added, and organic wines. Learn more at http://theorganicwinecompany.com/about/ and@organicwineco on Twitter.
Adam Morganstern is a photographer and authority on organic wine and often contributes to Organic Wine Journal. You can learn more about Adam by visiting www.adammorganstern.com or @adammorganstern on Twitter.
Santa Julia 2012 Chardonnay Orgánica ($10, Mendoza, Argentina)
The first brand of organically-grown wine that every vino enthusiast should be sure to try is Santa Julia’s 2012 Organic Chardonnay. Santa Julia is owned by Familia Zuccardi, which is the largest family-owned winery in Argentina. According to www.danmurphys.com, Santa Julia “produce[s] some brilliantly flavorsome organic wines, [and their wines] are well-balanced [with] a pleasant and long-lasting finish.” Located in Mendoza, half of Family Zuccardi’s vineyards have been certified as organic. This wine is a medium bodied dry white that offers a fruity bouquet of apple, pear, banana, and pineapple. Thirty-five percent of Familia Zuccardi’s vineyards are organic certified pursuant to the Argentinean, American, Canadian, European, and Japanese standards. To purchase this wine in the United States, contact the winemakers at www.familiazuccardi.com. You can learn more about Familia Zuccardi by visiting their website or @FamiliaZuccardi on Twitter.
Madroña Vineyards 2011 Signature Collection Dry Riesling ($18, El Dorado, California)
Another excellent organically-grown wine is Madroña Vineyard’s 2011 Signature Collection Dry Riesling. Located midway between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, Madroña Vineyards is a pioneer in high-elevation winemaking and owns three different vineyards. According to their website, they “make wines that are a pure and balanced expression of the land and of the varietals deliberately selected to thrive on [their] three vineyard properties.” Madroña’s dry riesling features aromas of honey and apple, while also imparting crisp citrus, mineral notes, and a delicious, clean finish. Learn more about Madroña Vineyards by visiting www.madronavineyards.com or @MadronaVineyard on Twitter.
Sokol Blosser 2012 Pinot Gris ($18, Willamette Valley, Oregon)
Anyone looking to learn more about organic wine should be sure to sample Sokol Blosser’s organically-grown 2012 Pinot Gris. One hundred percent of Sokol Blosser’s vineyards are certified organic, and the winery received LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certification in 2002. According to www.willamettewines.com, Sokol Blosser “has consistently captured the terroir of the region as expressed through the brilliance of its estate fruit.” Their 2012 Pinot Gris features apple, citrus, and fig flavors, accompanied by notes of mineral and spice. In 2002, Sokol Blosser became the first US winery to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, and they are also a Certified B Corporation, which means that they have displayed “measurable high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.” In 2005, they received full USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) organic certification, and are also certified through the Oregon Department of Agriculture. To learn more about Sokol Blosser, visit them at www.sokolblosser.com or @SokolBlosser on Twitter.
WillametteWines.com is your source for all things Willamette Valley wines, including maps, lists and reviews of wineries, and information on planning your visit to this storied wine growing region. Learn more at www.willamettewines.com or @wvwines on Twitter.
Famille Perrin 2011 Nature Côtes du Rhône ($15, Rhône Valley, France)
Yet another organically-grown wine that every vino enthusiast should be sure to try is Famille Perrin’s 2011 Nature Côtes du Rhône. One of the leading organic wine producers in the Rhône Valley, Famille Perrin’s 2011 Nature Côtes du Rhône comes from a single vineyard near Orange that has full ECOCERT status. ECOCERT is an organic certification program that was founded in France in 1991. Wine and spirits merchants Berry Brothers and Rudd had the following to say about Famille Perrin: “Domaine Perrin wines are impeccably made and reflect the true nature of the terroir from which they come…the Perrins are one of the most reliable wine families in the Rhône Valley; truly a name to look out for.” Made from grenache and syrah, their full-bodied red blend displays earthy red fruit flavors with herbal and spice notes. To purchase this wine in the United States, contact the winemakers at www.familleperrin.com. You can learn more about Famille Perrin by visiting their website or @Beaucastel on Twitter.
Berry Brothers & Rudd are wine and spirits merchants based in London. Their website features thousands of reviews on a variety of wine and spirits. Learn more at www.bbr.com or @BerryBrosRudd on Twitter.
Gérard Bertrand 2010 Cigalus ($45, Languedoc-Roussillon, France)
Another outstanding organically-grown wine is Gérard Bertrand’s 2010 Cigalus, a fifty-fifty blend of cabernet sauvignon and merlot grown on the biodynamically-farmed Cigalus estate. Mr. Bertrand is deeply committed to sustainable development, and has established partnerships with several organic farmers. Biodynamic winegrowing involves nurturing the soil and the vines in their natural environment using preparations of plant, animal, and mineral origin. According to their website, Gérard Bertrand values conviviality, excellence, authenticity, and innovation. Cigalus is a full bodied red blend that boasts ripe black fruit flavors and subtle tannins. Gérard Bertrand has established several partnerships with organic farmers and are committed to applying Terra Vitis and organic farming standards during the winemaking process. Additionally, some of their vineyards are managed following biodynamic guidelines certified by the Demeter Association. To purchase this wine in the United States, contact the winemakers at www.gerard-bertrand.com. Learn more by visiting their website or @GBvins on Twitter.
Benziger Winery 2011 Joaquin’s Inferno ($65, Sonoma Mountain, California)
Named for vineyard foreman Joaquin Corona, Benziger Winery’s 2011 Joaquin’s organically-grown Inferno red blend is a must-try for any organic wine enthusiast. Benziger Winery has been committed to using biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming methods since 1995, and was officially certified as a biodynamic farm by the Demeter Association. USA Today’s Travel Tips writes that Benziger uses “biodynamic, organic, and certified-sustainable farming practices [and relies] on the local land and nature to produce better tasting grapes, all while being respectful to their environment.” Joaquin’s Inferno is an interesting blend of sixty-one percent zinfandel, thirty percent petite sirah, and nine percent grenache, and imparts notes of boysenberry, raspberry, huckleberry, vanilla, and smoke. To learn more, visit www.benziger.com or @BenzigerWinery on Twitter.
USA TODAY Travel Tips features international travel trips, family friendly vacations, and trip planning recommendations for travel destinations near or far. Visit www.traveltips.usatoday.com or @usatodaytravel on Twitter.
Auriga Wine Cellars 2010 Sangiovese ($20, El Dorado, California)
Anyone interested in getting their hands on an interesting and delicious organically-grown wine should definitely sample Auriga Wine Cellars’ 2010 Sangiovese. Located in the Sierra Foothills of California, Auriga’s organic sangiovese is a biodynamic wine reminiscent of Tuscany’s famous chianti. This vineyard produces 2,500 cases of wine per year, and their selection is unique from year to year. Their 2010 sangiovese is ripe with floral aromas and fresh flavors of raspberry and strawberry, while also featuring herbal notes and supple tannins. You can learn more about Auriga Wine Cellars by visiting www.aurigawines.com or searching for Auriga Wine Cellars on Facebook.
Barone Pizzini Franciacorta 2011 Rosé ($25, Franciacorta, Italy)
Our final pick for the top nine most sought after organically-grown wines is Barone Pizzini Franciacorta’s 2011 Rosé. Barone Pizzini is dedicated to organic winemaking, and their organic viticulture is certified by the CCPB (an Italian organic certification group) with the “Organic Agriculture” mark. According to their website, Barone Pizzini has always been dedicated to “research, commitment, hard work, study, concern, and satisfaction [with the goal of producing] a pure wine devoid of any residue foreign to nature.” Their 2011 rosé is soft and fresh on the palate, and imparts hints of dried fruit, jam, and earthy layers of dark red fruit. To purchase this wine in the United States, contact the winemakers at www.baronepizzini.it. Learn more about Barone Pizzini Franciacorta by visiting their website or @PizziniBlog on Twitter.