Thank you for indulging my mini-rant, now let’s talk about wine.
The problem with these natural/organic/biodynamic (NOB) wines is that some are labelled as such, and some aren’t. They are not so much a category as they are a lifestyle decision. As you can, while of course I should have been able to put together a more coherent line-up, the fact of the matter is that it’s not that easy. I pulled together a group of widely available NOB wines, and this is the selection I ended up with. It’s not exactly fair to compare these wines against each other, but in light of Earth Day I did just that.
And the results were mixed.
Not that the wines were of poor quality or suffered from the outright defects that these wines may have exhibited a decade ago. it’s just that some were not that interesting, which makes them almost identical to more commercially produced wines. Neither has a lock on quality. A few wines did exhibit their NOBness fairly obviously. Mostly aromatically where natural yeast fermentations have produced aromas that are more complex and decidedly less fruit driven than almost all commercially distributed yeasts are capable of.
I like that. I like smelling weird things derived from soil, season, and fruit in my wie. As long as the wines taste and feel good and the best of the bunch today are absolutely stunning wines. I ended up with a nice selection of wines, though Italy was arguable over represented; revealing both my bias and the bias of the retailers I frequent. Buying these at retail also introduced a pair of wines that will probably cost more than $15 a bottle but that i was lucky enough to score on closeout or on sale. Such is life. we all get lucky sometimes.
The one real take away from this tasting is that NOB wines are becoming mainstream, both in acceptance and in quality. I do not buy NOB wines simply because they are NOB. I buy them because they taste good, and feel good, and offer something special to the drinker. That of course is not always the case with these wines, so i suggest you be particularly circumspect when researching these wines. I expect NOB wines to offer something more than simply a clean, fresh wine experience. That’s sort of the point here, besides saving the earth. We buy NOB wines because they are more transparent, more honest, more terroir driven. That is obviously not a universal rule so if you’re getting into NOB wines be prepared for a bit of a learning curve. It’s exciting I can tell you, and a bit surprising at times as you battle your prejudices about what a wine should smell and taste like but the rewards, as the top wines tasted below will attest to, are a new window into this brilliant hobby of ours.
Happy Earth Day!