Organic for Earth Day?
Are you just fooling yourself?
It being earth day tomorrow I thought this would be a fine time to explore attitude towards the whole organic/natural/biodynamic movement. I reached out to some wine professionals to get their opinions about these wines, but before I turn the stage over to them I’d like to explore the situation briefly.
Before we consider the value of these wines let’s be as clear as possible in regards to the definitions, whichcan be vague.
To begin with there is no organic wine, just wine made from organic grapes. Organic is a way of growing crops,the techniques used in the cellar, and additional treatments in the vineyard are what distinguishes, to a great extent, the wines peddled under the moniker natural or biodynamic.
So organic wine, ie wines produced from organically grown grapes, can and often do undergo traditional commercial winemaking techniques. natural winemakers eschew all intervention in the vineyards and in the cellars, ie no additives, acid adjustments, cultivated yeasts and preferably dry farming with. Sulphites are kept to a minimum, though some natural winemakers go so far as to not use sulfites, which can give stunning results but create a wine that is so delicate and predisposed to bacterial growth as to be commercially unviable.
Finally there are the biodynamic producers who are essentially natural winemakers who view their estate as a closed, living entity and work by the phases of the moon.
So what is not to like? For starters, there still remain quite a few defective wines that get sold, and praised because they are natural. I have nothing but the utmost respect for natural and biodynamic winemakers. They work harder and against unlikelier odds than virtually any other farmer on earth, but their job is to make wine. I am fairly forgiving in regards to wine faults. A bit of VA, some brett, it’s all good. Really funky wines that are off putting and fall well below the average of quality today, well that I can not forgive.
So if someone had asked the question that I have asked of me:
What are your thoughts on organic/natural/biodynamic wine?
I would reply thusly:
They are generally fine, in fact many of the wines I enjoy are produced organically and naturally, even though the producer often haven’t bothered to get any official recognition. Wines that are produced by conscientious producers working naturally show better detail and more transparency that most of their counterparts. This is undoubtedly results from their efforts in the vineyards. Working naturally requires more attention and this attention tends to extend to work in the cellar as well. I would be hard pressed to say that natural and/or organic farming is by definition better than any alternative, though the use of herbicides in particular disgusts me. By fermentations with natural yeasts, the the low level stress that naturally farmed vines enjoy do seem to have a profound affect on the finished wines and given the choice I would opt for a naturally made wine over a commercially made wine nine out of ten times.
What do you think about these wines? We asked our panel of experts and they shared their opinions with us.
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