Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine

Or at least it seems that way. A title like “Why ‘Natural’ Wine Tastes Worse Than Putrid Cider” just doesn’t seem positive. Maybe I’m reading it wrong.

What natural wine devotees think is pure, clean and authentic can taste for others like putrid apple cider or just as bad – -characterless, bland and acidic.

No, that’s definitely bad. I would like to point out that according to the author’s own writing, this merely equates Natural Wines with putrid apple cider – it does not say how it is worse, as stated in the title. Is he going by price, bottle variation or whether the labels are prettier? He doesn’t say.

To back up his claim, author Bruce Palling speaks with a whopping total of one wine broker and cites one bad experience at a restaurant he had. He also states the natural wine movement didn’t take off until Noma started serving them.

For a rational response, please read what Alice Feiring has to say.

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Roagna Langhe Blanco 2012

Rogana Langhe Blanco

The Roagna family has been growing grapes organically and making wines traditionally in the Piedmont region of Italy for four generations. The family’s principle holdings are in Barbaresco (6½ hectares), but in 1989 they expanded into Barolo. The wines are known for their classic style. Never filtered or fined, they’re made with minimal amounts of sulfur and are aged from three to five years in large, old Slavonian oak. The Roagna’s have been known to bottle and then hold back the wines for a couple of more years before release. What they end up with is complex, well structured and made to age for a very long time.

All that being said about their spectacular reds, they also make one white that I completely forgot about until recently, when I was having lunch at Locanda Verde in Tribeca with some friends and saw it on the wine list. It was a hot day and the wine called to me. One of my hosts only drinks white wines, with the exception of Chardonnay, which she finds repulsive and undrinkable. I thought I was safe ordering the Roagna, thinking that it was probably Arneis or Cortese.

When the wine came and I was given the chance to sample before pouring, something wasn’t quite right. Don’t get me wrong, the wine was fantastic, but it wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It tasted eerily like a wine from the Macon or even a Meursault, and that meant Chardonnay. Too late. The bottle was open, everyone was ready to drink and celebrate (her kids had just graduated from high school), so I gave the go ahead to pour away.

Now, I have tried to slip a great Chardonnay past her many times, and I have always failed. She’d take one sip, wrinkle her nose, smack her lips in a disgusted way and ask for something else. Maybe it was the spirit of the celebration, or just the fact that this is a beautifully made white (90% Chardonnay/10% Nebbiolo), but there was a huge smile on everyone’s face at the first sip that lasted all the way through the second bottle.

The Roagna Langhe Blanco is medium-full bodied, crisp and minerally, with the taste of hazelnuts, pear and honey. It’s fermented in old oak casks and is then aged for 1 ½ years longer in a large oak cask. The 2012 is just out, and it’s priced at retail at $20. You have to buy one for that friend of yours who hates all Chardonnays.

P. S. I may never tell my friend what she loved so much that afternoon.

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The 2012 Pig in the House Cabernet Sauvignon ($25) from NSW’s Cowra wine region has been named the 2014 NASAA Certified Organic Wine of the Year.

The inaugural NASAA Certified Organic Wine of the Year Awards attracted around 100 entries from across Australia. The Awards were open to Australian wines that have organic certification from an approved body such as the NASAA.

“This is the first organic wine tasting only open to wines grown and produced in Australia and certified by a Department of Agriculture Accredited Certification Body, such as NASSA Certified Organic.” explained the Awards organiser, NASAA’s Ben Copeman.

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Guinness McFadden

Guinness McFadden on the California Capitol Steps

Guinness McFadden of McFadden Vineyard was recognized by a joint resolution by the California State Assembly and Senate, celebrating his organic and eco-friendly farming in Mendocino for over forty years. McFadden had traveled to Sacramento on June 24th to receive an award for his sparkling wine, and was surprised by CA Assemblyman Wes Chesbro with the proclamation, that was co-sponsored by State Senator Noreen Evans.

Our congratulations to Guiness McFadden and the team at McFadden Vineyards and McFadden Farms.

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Watch here.

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There’s no solution for this, chemical or organic.

Hailstones as big as golf balls, buffeted by 60mph winds, swept across the Côte de Beaune region on Saturday afternoon, causing winegrowers to predict between 40% and 80% of the grape harvest would be lost.

Read full story at The Guardian.

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Domaine Mosse

You’ll rarely come across more of a character than René Mosse. The day we visited, he was perched at a little bar in a Yankees cap ready to pour us wines. I asked him if the cap was for us, since we were from New York, and he regaled us with his last visit to Yankee Stadium. His wife, Agnès, popped in from tending the garden and saw we were in good hands so she left us to René.

Agnes and Rene Mosse

Agnes and Rene Mosse

René, who used to sell wine in Touraine, decided to start his own winery with Agnès in 1999. Since then, their holdings have grown from 9 hectares to about 18 – all farmed biodynamically. We started with two enjoyable entry level wines – 2011 Le Rouchefer, a well-balanced wine with lovely structure and acidity, and the 2011 Arena Savennieres, from young vines in sandy soil, which displayed more acidity and just a hint of minerality.

We stepped up to a more racy acidity with the 2011 Les Bonnes Blondes, from 40-year old vines. The 2011 Initials BB, an ode to an infamous Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot duet, showcased their oldest vines, averaging 60 years, in rich, elegant fashion. This complex wine with an exceptionally long finish really demonstrates how great Chenin Blanc can be. The wines are delicious and show that je ne sais quoi imprint from Agnès and René.

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Domaine Roche Aux Moines

Domaine Roche Aux Moines

Next door to the estate of Nicholas and Virginie Joly, on a hilltop in Savennières overlooking the Loire, sits an ancient cluster of buildings behind a stone wall. This is Domaine Roche Aux Moines, founded in 1981 and named for the area’s highly regarded sub-appellation. The winery is run by second-generation winemaker, Tessa Laroche. A vivacious woman, she is pushing the domaine to new directions, and acheived 100% organic status in 2012. All her wines are unfiltered, harvested by hand and built for aging.

Tessa led us on a tasting of Domaine Aux Moines, their label of 100% Chenin, starting with the 2011. The wine shows promise, thanks to a mineral backbone, and is already drinking well. The soil here is schist and clay, imparting a flintiness to the wines and making them ideal for aging. How ideal? We soon found out.

Monique et Tessa Laroche

Monique et Tessa Laroche

We travel back in time to the 1999 vintage, for a very different wine. Honey notes are predominant in this full bodied wine. 1998 reveals a more austere version and 1994 brings more acid and staggering complexity. All these wines are from the same plot, yet are vastly different. The 1992 brings it all into harmony – acid balanced with minerality and ripeness. This is our favorite.

We also tried a 2010 Les Moines, the first vintage of this wine, unfiltered with no sulfur and aged 24 months in new and old barrels. The wood was a bit too prominent, but the aging potential was evident. Clearly, the domaine is in good hands with the next generation.


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