by Organic Wine Journal
on Mar 20, 2013
What is that “organic taste” that, apparently, most organic wines suffer from? The writer from examiner.com doesn’t go into detail, but thank God that Grgich Hills avoids it:
Looking for a good organic wine that doesn’t have the “organic” taste? Grgich Hills has some of the very best selections of wines that come from certified organic & Biodynamic vineyards. They won’t make you feel guilty for spending a little more on vino and are great alone or with certain foods.
by Organic Wine Journal
on Mar 13, 2013
From The Guardian:
Forty Hall vineyard is the brainchild of Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, a Hackney resident who studied viticulture and became determined to create an organic vineyard in London. Eventually, she discovered the Jacobean mansion of Forty Hall, owned by Enfield council. Its organic farm, run by Capel Manor, the local horticultural college, had some underused, south-facing slopes with, crucially, light, gravelly soils, unlike the unsuitable heavy clays of most of London. With added lime to deliver the perfect pH, this soil could grow grapes.
Creating London’s first organic wine for 500 years or so has not been straightforward. An acre of bacchus grapes planted in 2009 failed to grow. “Planting was done haphazardly by students and volunteers. We were all learning,” says Mark Mendes, a former science teacher and volunteer. “The second field was much more successful.”
This field, poised to deliver its first crop this year, was planted in 2011 by a German team with laser-guided equipment, funded by lottery money and other grants. (The day after, the Germans headed off to Windsor to plant some vines for the Queen.) “You can see the straight lines on Google Earth. It’s fantastic,” enthuses Mendes.
by Organic Wine Journal
on Mar 1, 2013
Lyle Fass, one of our contributors at Organic Wine Journal, is starting up Fass Selections, where he will be selling fine wines online through special email offers. We asked Lyle to tell us about his new venture:
What made you decide to open Fass Selections?
I’m 38 years and it was time I did my one “great thing.” I was tired of working for other people and not being able to fully express myself. Combine that with my experiences traveling in Europe and always getting asked by growers how they can sell more wine to America; the pieces were in place. The one thing that was not in place was money. Opening a wine store is expensive due to the numerous regulations, but that changed when California started issuing new licenses that enabled me to import/distribute and e-tail (sell wine on the internet) without a physical space.
I jumped at this opportunity as I could open my own business and help the countless growers who want more wine sold in America. Their wines will be cheaper to the consumer as I cut out 2 of the traditional distribution tiers, have almost no overhead and can be in total control. There are so many great wines in Germany that do not get exported to the US. I want to change that and I will.
How does the site work?
Come to the website, sign up for the email list and boom, you are all set. Emails will start off twice a week but may ramp up as time goes on. Each one will feature no more than 2-3 wines. We may also offer multiple formats, such as mags and 1/2 bottles, but we want to concentrate on a few quality selections each time.
How are you picking the wines?
The short answer is hard work. I travel to Europe frequently and meet winemakers and taste their wines.
The longer answer is that I have a terrific network of friends in the winemaking community. I have introduced many of them to the New York market and they are willing to return the favor by introducing me to up and coming winemakers in their regions. Some of these winemakers may have productions that are too small for traditional importers. I have three winemakers who have full time day jobs and make wine as a passion. I have another who works for another winemaker during the day and tends his vines at night. They are all making incredible wines but no importer has picked them up.
Will I completely ignore wines that are sold through the traditional 3-tier distribution system? Of course not. Some of them are purchased by the importers at prices that make them appealing, even with the three tier markup. I will also buy some older wines from collectors’ cellars if I think that they represent good value. I am a rebel but not a complete ideologue. My job is to sell great wines at fair prices and I will do that in any way that makes sense
Will there be organic/biodynamic/natural selections?
Yes, but I am not tied down to any ideology. Of course, I would love all my winemakers to make wine in the cleanest way possible with minimal intervention, organic viticulture/biodynamic if they choose to and natural if they can. At the end of the day, though, each of these growers is a small business unto themselves and they have to make decisions based on their own situations and not what I demand or expect.
If you’re interested in being on Lyle’s email list you can sign up at Fass Selections.
by Susannah Gold
on Feb 25, 2013
While organic and biodynamic viniculture is more widespread in Italy than people realize, most producers who follow these practices still do not get certification. One winery bucking this trend is Gualdo del Re in Suvereto, a lovely town in Southern Tuscany, not too far from the Mediterranean coast. On a clear day, you can even see the island of Elba in the distance.
Teresa and Nico Rossi, the owners of Gualdo del Re, have always worked the land using organic methods, but felt that certification was a further seal of approval recognizable by consumers who want to be certain they are purchasing “natural” products. After completing the three year process for certification, they received approval in 2011 for two of their white wines: Eliseo Bianco 2011 and Valentina 2011. Their red wines will be certified by the start of 2014.
Gualdo produces a classic line-up of wines from Valentina, a Vermentino, an award winning Merlot, L’Rennero, made from 100% Merlot and aged for 36 months; 15 months in oak barriques and 21 months in the bottle. There is a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon called Federico I and an interesting 100% Aleatico from Elba DOC called Amansio. Valentina and Federico are the names of their children.
A forward-looking pair in all ways, Nico and Teresa hired a top female enologist at a time when women in the cellar were pretty rare. Barbara Tamburini, has been with Gualdo for about 13 years. She started her career working with noted Tuscan enologist Vittorio Fiore.
Val di Cornia, where Suvereto is located, only recently received its denominazione d’origine controllata e garantita (DOCG). Yet the Val di Cornia became a DOC in November of 1989. There are only six towns that may use this legislation for wine labeling and that includes Campiglia Marittima, Piombino, San Vincenzo, Suvereto, Sassetta and Monteverdi Marttimo. These towns are located in the provinces of Livorno and Pisa.
Nico and Teresa have been singing the praises of their area for years, well before the DOCG recognition. A wine industry expert said he felt the area was similar to Pomerol in terms of the terroir and growing potential of certain grapes. Gualdo del Re also cultivates olive trees and makes grappa. The soil is a mixture of limestone, sandy, and clay. This area of Tuscany has a mild climate due to the tempering influence of ocean breezes. The wines exhibit their terroir and are minerally with salinity from the sea breezes. The grapes are very healthy as well because of these constant breezes.
The woods where Gualdo del Re’s 25 hectares of vines are located were a King’s retreat in the Middle Ages. There are numerous medieval towns with ancient ruins in this Etruscan Coast area. Nico and Teresa have created a “piccolo paradiso” in this lovely spot complete with delicious wines, a fine restaurant and a bed and breakfast set amidst pine woods and olive grows. They also have an agriturismo nearby where they are very careful with their use of water. The entire area is one viticultural park.
During my visit, Teresa was furious because hunters had wandered onto her land. Wild pheasant and rabbits frolic in this area, usually untroubled by man. Part of the environmental vision that Nico and Teresa have also pertains to animals and how healthy the area is for them. Nico and Teresa also breed ducks in their pond and grow vegetables in an orchard.
While Nico and Teresa noted that they haven’t seen much excitement in Italy over organic wines, especially because of the difficult economic situation that most people are facing. However, the pair remain convinced that they are absolutely certain that this is the direction for them and for the future of their wines.
Susannah Gold is a wine writer, publicist and certified Italian sommelier.
by Organic Wine Journal
on Feb 20, 2013
EXCELL laboratory in Bordeaux tested more than 300 French wines from the 2009 and 2010 vintages and found that around 90% of them contain pesticide residues. While we’re getting our hands on the report you can see a wrap up of more info at Decanter. Obviously we’re curious about how may organic wineries were included and, if so, what the statistical difference between those and conventional wines were. A previous study of European wines found pesticide residues in all conventional wines tested and, with one exception, none in the organic wines they sampled.
by Organic Wine Journal
on Feb 19, 2013
Will he remember his old friends now that he’s hit the big time? Tony Coturri does a Q&A with Nils Bernstein at Wine Enthusiast.
Our teaching universities say you gotta add sulfites, chemicals, get these ‘balances.’ Historically grapes were the fruit you did this with ’cause of the natural acidity, sugars, all the other goodies, it’s all there. I’m considered a radical, that my wines are unstable, if you buy them they’ll blow up, all that is just a lack of basic education.
See the full article.
by Fabio Bartolomei
on Feb 18, 2013
There seems to be a lot nonsense being written about orange wines lately, including by writers/bloggers who should know better. I’m not going to name any names, because there’s no need to, ie if you’re reading this post then you’re a wine-geek and you’ll have read all the other recent posts on orange wine and you’ll know exactly who and what I’m talking about.
It seems to me that the fundamental error that many people are making is not realizing that orange wines are a catagory unto themselves, and should not really be compared to white wines, red wines or any other kind of wine. Like Sherry, for example. Sherry is technically a white wine, but who in their right mind would taste a sherry and compare it to a normal white wine? I believe the same applies to orange wines.
There also seems to be some confusion about the use of sulfites in orange wines. There’s obviously no connection whatsoever. Orange wines can be made with no sulfites, with a reasonable quantity of sulfites, or with lots of sulfites! It depends on the winemakers’ decision.
And there also seems to be some confusion with regard to natural/organic/biodynamic wines. Orange wines do not necessarily have to be natural, organic or biodynamic. There is in fact an industrial volume-producer in Spain who still churns out an orange wine for about €2/bottle.
Orange wines are not a newly discovered phenomenon. They’ve been made that way for thousands of years, especially in countries like Georgia and Armenia, but probably in ALL winemaking countries. Friuli, in Italy, for example. I know for a fact that they were made in Spain, until they went out of fashion; now there are only a few producers left. OK, so they’re all the rage at the moment, and everyone who wants to be relevant and interesting feels obliged to write about them! Oh well.
Orange wines are perfectly capable of expressing the terroir of where they were produced. Why on earth should they not be? It depends on the winemakers’ decisions, just like for any wine or type of wine.
I don’t see why certain writers think that ALL orange wines are expensive. Obviously some are, but others are quite normally priced. (my own, for example, retail in NY for about $20 in winestores and for about $40 in restaurants)
Orange wines don’t have to be made in clay amphoras. They can be made in any container whatsoever. I personally make the exact same orange wine in containers of three different materials (clay amphoras, stainless steel, and open-top oak casks) just to see if there’s any appreciable difference.
What I don’t understand is why people get so upset and feel they have mock and/or attempt to be funny and/or criticise without knowing what they’re talking about. I mean, surely it’s interesting for people to try a new type of wine? Why all this negativity and disparagement? Why not focus on the interesting, reasonably-priced, terroir-expressing orange wines out there, instead of on the expensive, funky, cloudy ones?
Orange wines don’t have to be cloudy. It depends on whether the winemaker fines it and/or filters it and/or lets it settle naturally by gravity!
Orange wines don’t have to be oxidized either. It depends on whether the winemaker decides to protect it from contact with oxygen or not.
I personally discovered orange wines about three years ago quite by accident, and I have to say that I love them, because they are so different from white wines and red wines. They are very versatile too: on the one hand they’re great for drinking on their own as an aperitivo before lunch, or for quaffing casually in a winebar, and on the other hand they go great with food too.
by Ralph Toporoff
on Feb 11, 2013
Here is a video interview with Davide and Stefano Bruscia. discussing making organic wines in the Le Marche region of Italy.
Brusia – Organic Wine Producers from Ralph Toporoff on Vimeo.
Photo-journalist/filmmaker Ralph Toporoff began his career in the sixties, with international magazines including Look, Paris Match, Gente and Der Spiegel. He then went on to a forty year career as a Cinematographer and Motion Picture Director. See more of his work at rtoporoff.com.