5 – 7:30 pm
DISCOVER Organic Wine
Earth Day is upon us. Now, more than ever, it is important to “live lightly upon the land.” We are sampling a variety of organic wines at both stores Friday and Saturday. Friday we taste a classic Muscadet (not Muscat, no relation) dry and minerally it is the perfect oyster wine; an old favorite white from the French Alps “like drinking mountain air,” and our White Wine of the Week a rich white from northern Italy. For reds we have a plush Barbera from Italy; a classic Rhone blend of Grenache and Syrah, and our Red Wine of the Week, a Bordeaux blend from South Africa. Mother Earth thanks you!
The Varieties of Organic Wine Experience
Sustainable agriculture is a way of life or a philosophy that refers to a farm’s ability to produce food indefinitely with minimal unnatural outside inputs and without damaging the health of the ecosystem. SustainableTable.org defines it more broadly as, “a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities.” Both certified organic and biodynamic agriculture are rigorous forms of sustainable agriculture with strict sets of rules.
La Lutte Raisonnée
“La lutte raisonnée” or “the reasoned struggle” is a French concept used in orchards and vineyards. Growers who practice this kind of viticulture use chemicals less often and less aggressively than conventional growers do. They use biological control and non-chemical inputs as long as they are effective. Conscientiously practiced, lutte raisonnée can be very close to organic farming, but the only thing to stop a reasoned grower from farming conventionally is his conscience.
Organic wines are produced using organically grown grapes. No pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, or synthetic chemicals are allowed on the vines or in the soil. Grape growers can only use mined minerals, natural extracts, and their derivatives.
Sulfur is a safe, widely used anti-microbial element that keeps wine from spoiling. Growers put sulfur on their vines to control molds and mildews, winemakers sterilize barrels with sulfur and add sulfites to wine to protect against bacteria and stop re-fermentation. A small percentage of asthmatics are allergic to sulfites. If you can eat dried fruits without effect, you are not allergic to sulfites. Two ounces of dried, sulfured fruits contain the same amount of sulfites as a glass of red wine. (Note: brown raisins are not sulfured.)
The major US certification organizations are CCOF (California Certified Organic Farmers), Stellar Certification Services, and USDA Organic. The major European certification organizations are Ecocert, AB (Agriculture Biologique), Bio, and Nature & Progrès.
Biodynamic agriculture goes a step beyond organic agriculture. Olivier Humbrecht, MW, is arguably the best white winemaker on the planet and the owner of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht of Alsace, France. He is also one of the leading practitioners of biodynamic viticulture. He says: “The principles of bio-dynamic farming were defined in 1924 in Germany by Rudolf Steiner, as he responded to farmers that could see their land threatened by the abusive use of fertilizers originating from the growing German industry. These principles can be very succinctly summarized by the following three points. One, the upgrading of the soil and plant life in its natural environment due to the use of products made from vegetal, animal and mineral origin. Two, the application of these products at specific times during annual cycle (sun, moon…). This is the dynamic part. It recognises that the land (earth = mother, sun = father) is an organism in its own right. The biodynamic farmer will choose specific treatments that will mostly bring forces of life to the soil and the plant. Three, the working of the soil by ploughing, tilling, blazing…” The major certification organizations are Demeter and Biodyvin.
Coing de Sevre Muscadet 2015 – $11.99
Tasting price – $10.79
(100% Melon de Bourgogne; Loire Valley, France)
In the Loire River Valley, on the outskirts of Nantes, the dynamic Chéreau family makes this amazing value from a treasured plot of 80-year-old vines. The estate lies nestled in the confluence of the Sèvre and Maine rivers with a unique terroir renowned as the region’s “Grand Cru.” Their Muscadet “Coing de Sevre” shows a fresh nose of fruits, flowers, and minerals; a lively acidity supports rich fruit flavors and a dry, Spring-filled finish.
Carrel, Jongieux Blanc 2016, Savoie – $12.99
Tasting price – $11.69
(100% Jacquere; Savoie, France)
Sustainable, trending Organic
The Savoie appellation of Jongieux lies in the foothills of the French Alps 40 miles southwest of Geneva. Made from the native Jacquère grape, it exemplifies one wine writer’s comment, “you are drinking bottled mountain air” due to a natural CO2 that enhances its vitality. I love its aromas & flavors of ripe apples, citrus, anise & mineral. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you will love Jacquère.
Les Grimaudes Costieres de Nimes Rouge 2015 – $14.99
Tasting price – $13.49
(50% Carignan, 35% Cinsault, 25% Grenache; Nimes, France)
“In 1999, the purchase of the Perrieres Estate in Manduel represented the start of a new adventure for the Kreydenweiss family. They were particularly interested in the oldest variety, Carignan, but also by Syrah and Grenache. The cellar was even built using ecological materials. Biodynamic principles have been applied to the entire vineyard, and the vines are severely pruned to control the yields. Les Grimaudes is made by Emmanuelle Kreydenweiss. In her words, ‘I wanted this to be fruity, full-bodied, and easy to drink. The lack of aggressive tannins gives it a smooth and velvety palate.’” – Anglia Wine Merchants
Montaribaldi Barbera d’Asti “La Consolina” 2015 – $14.99
Tasting price – $13.49
(100% Barbera; Piedmont, Italy)
“The name Montaribaldi refers to the ancient Roman road that linked the winery to the different vineyards throughout the Piedmont, thus creating a philosophical and geographical umbrella that tie Luciano’s forward looking Domaine to the rich viticultural history of the region. The vision of the Montaribaldi reflects the mantra of “place over process” and the winemaking is done in such a way as to bring this to fruition.”