Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine


This wine is like “a powerful hug from a really sexy lady.” Watch Victoria’s review of the Erbaluna Barbera d’Alba Superiore La Rosina 2010.


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Are you a sommelier who really knows their Languedoc-Roussillon wines? Want to win a trip to the region to meet some great winemakers? Then enter the Sud De France Sommelier Competition. There’ll be an exam and blind tasting – and then the final three candidates will compete in front of a live audience.


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9th-generation winemaker Pierre-Marie

9th-generation winemaker Pierre-Marie

Luneau Papin in Le Landreau (Muscadet) is in the process of converting to organic. As of now, 25 hectares out of 40 have been converted with the rest in process – they have already ceased using pesticides on all their lands. For 9th-generation winemaker Pierre-Marie, with his colleagues in the Loire already at the forefront of organic winemaking, this is a giant step for a storied domaine whose name arose from the joining of two area winemaking families. With 35 different cuvees, the domaine makes a wide variety of wines, using common local grapes like Folle Blanche (used in Gros Plant) and Melon de Bourgogne, as well as Chardonnay, Gamay and Merlot in some blends.

Wines tasted came from vines ranging from 25 – 75 years old, and many displayed minerality and good depth of flavor. A quartet of four 2012 vintages started the tasting – 2012 Folle Blanche showed nice richness for such a young wine, while the 2012 Domaine Pierre de la Grange, made with grapes from 45-year old vines, was delicious and easy to drink, delivering nice minerality and some complexity. Both 100% Melon, Clos des Allées showed good minerality and acid, while Les Pierres Blanches was very pure and almost saline; the fruit from 55-year old vines.

The Terre de Pierre wines from Butte de la Roche, which has a unique soil comprised of elements like magnesium, were powerful and rich – and age-worthy. The 2010 Terre de Pierre spent 18 months on lees, yielding a full, rich, stony wine; the 2008 more full-bodied with prominent acidity. The winery holds back a good number of wines to age, unusual for Muscadet. Some to seek out include 1999 Le L’D’or, which is getting very elegant in its not-so-old age, and the 2003 Excelsior from that year’s infamous hot summer which remarkably has kept its freshness.

Domaine Pierre Luneau Papin Website


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During the 14 years I was in retail, I could never find the time to get out and visit other wine shops. So with my new found liberation, I’m making up for lost time. On one of my first sojourns this beauty spoke to me – and it said all of the right things.

Domaine Barou is located in the VDP des Collines Rhodaniennes, which is a sub appellation of the Comtes des Rhodaniens. Did that help? How about it’s in the Northern Rhone, near St Joseph and the Ardeche. That’s as close as I’m going to get you. Emmanuel and Marie-Agnes Barou have been farming organically for almost 40 years (1975), and their vineyards are certified organic (Ecocert). The Cuvee des Vernes is 100% syrah from 30 year-old vines. After a brief cold maceration, and then an 18 day fermentation, it ages in five year old oak for nine months. Nothing nasty is done during that whole time, and a little bit of sulfur comes in at bottling.

The result is a $14 bottle of joy. Right away you smell the garrigue and spices, and then you’re treated to black cherries – then that same spice on the palate. The tannins are round, the mouth is full and the finish is long. And you can easily have a glass or even two, because the alcohol is sitting at 13%.

So get out there and hunt this one down, and now that you know where Domaine Barou is, you can visit them as well. Besides their wines, they’ll sell you their organically grown cherries (June), or their apricots (July) or their peaches (August and September.)


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New York’s most exciting wine tasting of the year will be held once again in the spacious Granite Room and Rose Room of City Hall Restaurant at 131 Duane Street. All proceeds from this event (as well as $500 donations from Chambers Street Wines and Louis/Dressner) will go to Partners-in-Health “breaking the cycle of poverty and disease in Haiti and 11 countries around the world.” (For more information or to contribute directly, go to www.pih.org) Admission is $20, cash or check at the door. No sign-up sheet this year so come anytime, but we would advise arriving between 1:00 and 2:00 or between 3:30 and 4:00.

Natural viticulture, hand harvesting, low yields, wild yeasts, non-interventionist winemakng, and, most importantly, enjoyment, are the “principles” of Louis/Dressner. These growers are a unique and fascinating group committed to the natural expression of their terroirs and culture through honest, traditional wines. Here’s the list of vignerons attending:

Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet; Domaine Luneau-Papin, Muscadet; Domaine Bernard Baudry, Chinon; Domaine du Closel, Savennières; Domaine François Pinon, Vouvray; Domaine des Terres Dorées, Beaujolais; Domain Franck Peillot, Savoie; Domaine Eric Texier, Rhone; Montesecondo, Tuscany; Weingut Knebel; Weingut Immich-Baterieberg; Weingut Clemens Busch and Weingut Koehler-Ruprecht.
And we’ll be pouring wines from these outstanding domains as well: La Sansonnière, Anjou; Noella Morantin, Touraine; Tue-Boeuf, Touraine; Puzelat-Bonhomme, Touraine; Les Vin Contés, Touraine; Michel Augé, Touraine; Laurent Barth, Alsace; Claude Maréchal, Burgundy; Paul Pernot, Burgundy; Jean Manciat, Macon; Clos de la Roilette, Fleurie; Desvignes, Morgon; Georges Descombes, Morgon; Lard des Choix, Ardeche; Marcel Richaud, Rhone; Oratoire Saint-Martin, Cairanne; Hauvette, Provence; Mas Chimères, Languedoc; Domaine du Possible, Roussillon; Nusserhof, alto Adige; Monte dall’Ora, Valpolicella; Bera, Piedmont; Cascina Tavijn, Piedmont; Ca de Noci, Emilia-Romagna; Graciano, Emilia-Romagna; Sanguineto, Montalcino; Guttarolo, Puglia; Del Prete, Puglia; Romeo del Castello, Sicily; De Bartoli, Sicily. Wow, what a list, see you on the 22nd!


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From Beverage Media:

According to Michael Degen, Executive Director Messe Düsseldorf GmbH and Director of ProWein, “The numbers of organic producers have grown substantially over the years and this year some 250 exhibitors declare to have a specific focus on the category.” ProWein will feature a special section in Hall 6 titled “World of Organic Wine” featuring participants from Switzerland, South Africa, Bulgaria, Australia, France and Italy. Additionally there will be a “Top 100” tasting zone of award winning international organic wines. And of course many other producers in Hall 6 and other halls will be offering organic, sustainable and biodynamically produced wines as part of their portfolio, including a wide array from Wines of Chile.

The biodynamic sub-category has grabbed a lot of attention with passionate proponents adopting the controversial production system devised and introduced in Austria by Rudolph Steiner. The primary certification organization, Demeter, will have a booth at the trade fair along with seminars on the program. Also in attendance will be Ecovin, Respekt, Fepeco (Spain) and CCE (Croatia). Demeter is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2014 with a variety of seminars and special tastings listed on the ProWein website.


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Olivier Cousin Trial

Jim’s Loire has a 3 part write-up about Olivier Cousin’s day in court:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


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Outside of central Boston, beyond the new cocktailians and craft beer bars in Cambridge, the Red Line ends at Davis Square, home of Tufts University. In the past year, several cocktail saloons and organic wine bars have popped up here, including Spoke Wine Bar. As the name suggests, Spoke offers bespoke small plates, from Chef John DaSilva, in a casual speakeasy setting with an extensive organic wine list, handpicked from small wineries by the owner, Felisha Foster. This past weekend, I had the opportunity to speak with Foster about her impressive career, love of Boston, and of course, organic wine.

Falling into wine (her own words) fifteen years ago Foster has worked on the retail side, as a distributor and an importer, and most recently spent five years working as a buyer at Dave’s Fresh Pasta, a local favorite. At Dave’s she earned a reputation for building the Davis Square wine palate by choosing wines from small European wineries, but recently discovered that the retail side was no longer for her. After an epiphany on a motorcycle trip out west, Foster decided she was ready for something else.

“The space popped up right next to Dave’s, so it just kind of made sense because I knew the community already had a built-in clientele,” said Foster. “I really wanted to take the plunge.” In fall of 2012, Spoke opened its doors, with Foster stationed at her spot at the front door, warmly greeting patrons into the dimly lit cozy space. The wine list, which rotates frequently, features wines listed in order from “Light to Full-Bodied,” with knowledgeable sommeliers at the ready. During my visit, I tried a Filipa Pato 2012 Chenin Blanc from Portugal. While not certified organic, the Pato is like many of the wines Foster chooses, practicing organic production, but feel they are too small to make the leap to get certified.

“I’m interested in portfolios and the problem with the whole organic thing is that a lot of the people that I deal with are not going to get certified,” Foster said, “They’re like, ‘My family’s been doing this for eight generations, why would we pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a stamp on the back of our label for something that we’ve been doing forever?’”

She is drawn to these smaller importers and portfolios less by the fact that they are organic, but for the quality their smaller production yields. “I’m drawn to the way those wines taste because they have more of a sense of place – they don’t taste commercial,” she said.

Foster, who works with distributors like Dressner and Kermit Lynch, handle many wines including some that are biodynamic and sulfite-free. Her regular clientele have learned to trust her opinion and relationship with the wines over the little green label. Like the producers Foster works with, she maintains a close relationship in the Davis community – evident by her proximity to the bar – she lives four minutes away. And the feeling is mutual, “I just love the area and the community – we’ve been very well-received.”

Spoke is located in Somerville, MA at 89 Holland St.

Website: www.spokewinebar.com


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