Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

The inaugural Nedbank Green Wine Awards were announced today at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town.

The Nedbank Green Wine Awards have come about due to the increased popularity and consumer interest in this category. Nedbank was the natural partner for the awards due to their ongoing involvement with conservation projects. Their support for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative through the Green Trust has been in effect since the organizations inception in 2004.

The Green Wine Awards are two pronged: Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes, and Best Environmental Practices Award.

Best Wine from Organically Grown Grapes

Producers were asked to submit wines made from organically grown grapes together with valid organic certification. The wines were divided into categories according to grape variety or style and tasted blind (labels un-sighted) by a five-person panel appointed by WINE magazine.

One white and one red emerged a clear step above the competition, these being Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chenin Blanc 2008 and Laibach The Ladybird Red 2007 respectively. The Lazanou Organic Vineyards Chenin Blanc was declared the overall winner due to it’s higher arithmetic score.

Best Environmental Practices Award

The aim of incorporating a second category into the Nedbank Green Wine Awards was to recognize the effort being made amongst South African wineries to farm with a view to long term environmental sustainability.

Each producer was asked to provide comprehensive details on farming practices which were then judged according to guidelines set out by the Integrated Production of Wine (South Africa’s internationally recognized voluntary sustainability scheme established in 1998) and the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative.

The judges were Inge Kotzé, project coordinator for the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative, Tom McLaughlin, good business journey specialist at Woolworths, and Lourens van Schoor, a registered soil and environmental scientist and director of environmental auditing firm Enviroscientific.

The winner was Oak Valley in Elgin which will receive an IPW audit worth R11 000 sponsored by Enviroscientific for both farm and cellar. The runner up was Waverly Hills.

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Living in a new world. That is the concept that the De Martino winery is looking to convey to the consumer with the release of its Nuevo Mundo (New World) wine, the first Carbon Neutral wine in Chile and Latin America.

Produced from organically grown grapes in the Maipo Valley (BCS OKO- Garantie certified), this product has been certified as Carbon Neutral by the Carbon Reduction Institute and its offices in Chile—Green Solutions.

Nuevo Mundo is the first wine to have achieved Carbon Neutral certification at every stage of production, as—from birth until its arrival at the customer—all of the greenhouse gases released during its productions, packaging and delivery have been reduced to zero, making this a wine which does not impact negatively on climate change.

• Eco-friendly bottles are made from 35% recycled materials and have been reduced in weight by 9%.
• US Transport from Organic Vintners (US Importer) warehouse to each distributor has been accounted for and neutralized.
• High level of carbon emissions from business trips made by commercial team have been identified and neutralized.
• Labels are made from recycled paper and have low ink content.
• Amount of packaging and weight of boxes have been reduced and are made from recycled cardboard.

As a producer of premium wines in Chile, De Martino has been a pioneer and leader in sustainable organic production and in taking action against climate change. This fact is in keeping with the winery’s philosophy and its permanent commitment to respect the environment and local conservation in the production of its world class wines.

What is a carbon credit? A carbon credit is equal to one ton reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. The sale of carbon credits helps to finance projects that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases or that prevent them from being processed in our atmosphere.

What does being carbon neutral mean? The definition of carbon neutral is any activity, product, service or organization that has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions both direct and indirect, and has neutralized the impact on climate change caused by any remaining emissions but also those from the entire supply chain. As well as directly decreasing global warming, it promotes the development of environmentally friendly initiatives.

The wine is imported into the United States by Organic Vintners.

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Congratulations to Australia’s Harris Organic Wines which is celebrating their tenth anniversary. In honor of the occasion, Duncan and Deborah Harris are releasing their first sparkling wine, “Madeleine Claire,” named after their daughter. Learn more about Harris Wines at

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First MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award

• Powerful partners: world’s leading exhibition cooperates with MUNDUSvini/Meininger Verlag
• Deadline: 21 November 2009
• Tasting from 7–9 December 2009 in Neustadt on the Wine Road

The wine segment at the World Organic Trade Fair gets another highlight in 2010 when BioFach and MUNDUSvini/Meininger Verlag organize the first MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award. The organic wine world has presented its products in the day-lit hall 4A at BioFach since 2008 and the new wine award will make it even more attractive. Altogether 318 organic wine exhibitors presented the results of their wine-making skills to visiting experts in 2009. Some 700 wines are expected to be entered for the first MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award in 2010. The samples sent in will be tasted and judged by an international jury of experts before the event. The medals will be presented officially at the next edition of the world-leading exhibition in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg from 17–20 February as part of the official tour of the exhibition and in line with the good tradition of the previous BioFach International Wine Award.

The cooperation between BioFach, the World Organic Trade Fair, and MUNDUSvini/Meininger Verlag initially focuses on organizing the competition for the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award. In the long term, both partners want to establish the organic wine award as an annual competition with the prize presentation during the BioFach exhibition in the NürnbergMesse exhibition centre.

“We are delighted to have a strong and highly regarded partner like MUNDUSvini and Meininger Verlag to support the organization of the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award. The many years of experience of NürnbergMesse, the good reputation of BioFach, the expertise of MUNDUSvini in organizing top-class tastings and naturally the sound specialist knowledge of Meininger Verlag complement each other perfectly! I am sure this will be a pioneering joint project for the international organic wine market,” says Udo Funke, Exhibition Director of BioFach and Vivaness.

The aim of the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award is to promote the quality and marketing of wines from organic production. On the one hand, the competition is to offer manufacturers, winegrowers, importers and consumers a forum for comparing the wines with each other, and on the other to provide consumers with valuable guidance when deciding which wine to buy.

The organization and implementation of the competition will be based on the MUNDUSvini Great International Wine Award and it will be subject to the same internationally recognized competition rules. The tasting of the samples entered will take place in Neustadt on the Wine Road from
7–9 December. This will be done by an international jury of experts comprising well-known and experienced tasters from all over the world. The judging is based on a 100-points system involving smell, taste and individual scoring using the sampling tables of the OIV (International Organisation of Vine and Wine) and the U.I.Œ. (International Union of Oenologists). The award winners are decided by a joint decision of the jury. The number of awards is limited to maximum 30 % of the samples entered in line with the OIV rules. The best wines receive “Special Gold”, “Gold” and “Silver” awards.

Eligible for entry are still wines, sparkling wines, perl wines and liqueur wines from organic cultivation with a number from an organic certification body. The deadline for sending samples is 21 November 2009. The full entry conditions and competition forms for the MUNDUSvini BioFach International Organic Wine Award can be requested from the MUNDUSvini organization team by phone on 06321 8908-9500 or by e-mail at The wines can be entered online at

Contact for press and media at NürnbergMesse:
Barbara Böck, Ellen Rascher
Tel +49 (0) 9 11. 86 06-83 28
Fax +49 (0) 9 11. 86 06-82 56

Contact for press and media at Meininger Verlag:
Berit Schönrock
Tel +49 (0) 63 21. 89 08-19 10
Fax +49 (0) 63 21. 89 08-84

This and other press articles are available in the press section at:

The latest product information from the companies is available at:

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Organic Wine Is Crisis Proof

Good news from our friends at BioFach 2010. Organic wine is still doing well internationally despite the economic downturns. Germany is predicting a 10% increase in organic wine sales and Austrian organic wines are riding an increased demand from markets overseas, including Japan. French organic wine is “booming,” according to Kai Schamar, partner of VivoLoVin. And in Spain, 90% of the organic wines are being exported.

Read the full report here.

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volpaianic“When you have a winery in your family, you can’t say when you started working there,” says Nicolò Mascheroni Stianti of Castello Di Volpaia. “You just grow up with it.” Nicolò is also CEO of a publishing company in Milan, but since 2006 he’s been spending more time with the family business. “My parents said to learn to sell wine. You can make the best wine ever, but it won’t matter if no one buys it.”

Castello Di Volpaia is no ordinary winery, unless you consider owning your own 11th-century village typical. Raffaello Stianti, Nicolò’s grandfather, began purchasing the Volpaia lands in Tuscany in 1964 and it’s been farmed organically since then. “My grandfather was the one who started it. He was a hunter and he thought being organic would attract more animals to the property.”

Nicolò’s parents, Carlo and Giovannella, received the estate as a wedding gift, and in the mid ’70s dedicated themselves to modernizing the winery. They now produce around 20,000 cases a year, all of which are certified organic in the European Union. Giovannella runs a cooking school on the property, also dedicated to doing things organically. They raise their own chickens and grow their own vegetables to create a self-sustaining community.

Although 40% of their wine is sold in the United States, you won’t see “organic” on those labels. Nicolò blames the lack of reciprocal certification between the European Union and the United States, something he finds very frustrating. “These are the two biggest markets for wine and they should be able to come to an agreement. If you’re organic, you’re organic.”

volpaiabottlesIt’s not just a matter of meeting standards, but also comes down to the paperwork required. “It’s too much,” Nicolò states. “You have to keep track of what you buy and what you use. And since the two governments require two different accounting methods you’d have to keep two separate books for doing the same thing.”

Ironically, Volpaia also produces an organic olive oil which they’re allowed to import into the U.S. with “organic” on the label. “Why is the olive oil all right, but not the wine?” questions Nicolò. “If we were cheating somehow on the wine, wouldn’t we be doing the same with olive oil?”

While he believes in certification for organics, Nicolò doesn’t feel the same way about biodynamics. “Demeter just arrived in Italy, but I disagree with their certification. Biodynamics is a philosophy. It’s the way you choose to apply it. Organics is an objective. It can be measured. You can use this, you can’t use that.”

Organics is getting more popular in Italy. Other winemakers have been coming to Volpaia for advice and Nicolò is starting a blog detailing their methods and organic approaches to problem solving. “Our vines didn’t suffer this year, whereas our neighbors had a lot of problems. It was a hot and dry harvest.”

Volpaia isn’t only concerned with the environment. They’ve recently teamed up with Save The Children and have created a special wine, Il Puro, whose proceeds will go to building four schools and four wells in Ethiopia. The wine is carbon neutral; all CO2 emissions are offset by new plants. You can make a donation to purchase one of the 1,500 bottles on their website.

Nicolò is currently wrapping up his sales trip to New York and is then headed to Boston, where he spent a year in college. “I worked as a waiter while I was in school there. It’s still the most profitable job I ever had.”

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Bonny Doon Goes Biodynamic

Randall Graham is embracing biodynamics and Bonny Doon is now on its way to certification with Demeter. Bonny Doon has also started putting ingredient labels on their wines in an effort towards “complete transparency.” So, along with grapes, you may see tartaric acid, untoasted wood chips and copper sulfate printed on your bottle.

The OWJ gang took a selection of these wines on a recent getaway and here are our notes.

2008 Albarino Ca’ Del Solo Estate Vineyard, Monterey

The nose is fresh like the sea. It’s graceful, if a little disjointed. Acid in one place, fruit in another. Nice lemon finish with tart acidity. Should go well ceviche, sushi or shrimp cocktail.

2007 Le Cigar Blanc, Beeswax Vineyard

Fresh creamy nose, with confectionary subtext. Rich, full bodied with brown spice and oak notes.

2008 Muscat Ca’ Del Solo Estate Vineyard. Monterey

Light frisky muscat nose. Does it taste like a muscat? It’s more of a muscat lite. Low sugar, nice balance though you wish for a little more acid.

2008 Vin Gris De Cigare

This Rosé smells great, like strawberries and earth. Nice simple wine that could use a little more drive.

2005 Le CIgar Volant

Great intensity. Ripe berry nose. Woodsy. Youthful for an 05 wine. Elegant. Tannins still kicking but integrating. Will be great in a couple of years. Good length. Subtle boysenberry finish. Great for grilled meats or roasted chickens.

The wines reviewed were provided to us by Bonny Doon Vineyard.

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When when of our favorite wineries teams up with one of our favorite importers it can only mean good news for New York wine lovers. Coturri Winery is now going to be represented by Jenny & Francois Selections. Known for their collection of natural wines from France, this will be the first U.S. wine the importer will carry. The Organic Wine Journal spoke with Jenny Lefcourt about the news.

This is the first U.S. wine in your portfolio. Why Coturri?

It’s the only American wine I drink on a regular basis. It’s 100% the same philosophy of the wineries we work with in France. We’ve recently expanded to Italy and Spain as well, so we’re spreading our borders.

Tony has a loyal following. What will you do to increase interest in his wines?

In the past two years there’s been a tremendous interest in natural wines. It’s a perfect moment to remind people that Coturri has always been in the spirit of that.

How many labels will you carry?

Right now we have 8 labels in stock. We’ll test the waters with those and see what people’s interest are. One of my favorites is the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Will you be concentrating more on restaurants or wine stores?

Both. I believe in these wines. Everyone should have an opportunity to taste them. I don’t present any of my labels as a niche wine. There are so many palettes out there. These wines are well balanced and have the acidity that a lot of California wines lack. Coturris are perfect for Thanksgiving. Beautiful complexity.

How long have you been drinking Coturri wines?

At least 8 years, I’ve always been a big fan.

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