Stating The Obvious

The other night we were drinking a simply delicious biodynamic wine from Taburno, a region within Campagnia. The grape type is the ancient “Falanghina.” The vintage was 2005. There was a golden hue in the glass and deep pool of light seemed to radiate from within. The wine had a little forward effervesce and then a cool smooth finish, not unlike other biodynamic wines that are still alive because they have not been euthanized by sulfites. The taste of grapes came through and the wine was uncomplicated by “hints” of this berry or that fruit, although a little fresh citrus was delightful. This nectar from Campagnia was lush yet uncomplicated, refreshing and pleasing. It wasn’t expensive, around $14.00 even with the high Euro. High praise to all involved in making, shipping and retailing a Biodynamic non-sulfite wine that is delicious and affordable… a lesson to all others who claim it cannot be done! The producer is Agricola Del Monte- Ponte, Italy and it is grown and made on the Ocone estate, the importer in the U.S is Polaner Selections.

After a glass or two we were thinking, doesn’t it drive you crazy when you see something clearly, can’t do anything about it and then it all comes crashing down, everyone else is totally surprised? The last few weeks have been particularly rich in “I saw that coming” revelations. Take Starbucks coffee for example. For years I have witnessed the proliferation of Starbucks everywhere; the ten stores in my neighborhood, the airport stores and on the jets themselves. For years I thought this brand is diluting itself into parody. Now Starbucks see this, admits it and is doing a whole new corporate re-focus on making the brand “special” again.

The mortgage mess, how stupid did you have to be not to see that giving no documentation loans to borrowers after years of unprecedented housing price appreciation and then letting them take out more equity loans against those houses would result in default and disaster? Clearly, very stupid as a few thousand people at Country Wide and Bear Stearns just found out the hard way.

After a decade of denying that global warming was happening, something clear to anyone used to feet upon feet of snow in his or her childhood facing barren winters, we are getting a real dose of reality. Antarctic ice sheets larger than Manhattan are breaking off into the sea and larger ice sheets are coming loose and are sure to follow. Shrinking polar caps and rising sea levels…can’t say we weren’t warned.

And now for the week’s finale, pesticides have been found in conventional wine…da. This weeks breaking news (see OWJ accompanying story) is the smoking gun we have been waiting for. Did anyone really think that you could pour billions of pounds of toxic, poisonous pesticides and herbicides onto vines and into the ground and have them NOT SHOW UP IN THE WINE! Where would they go but into the vine the grape and the wine itself? Would they miraculously disappear, would they evaporate or self dissolve? Of course not, they would end up doing exactly what they were supposed to do…poison lower level life forms, until they go to us. The same day, if you can believe it, the BBC’s web site has an article linking pesticides to Parkinson’s disease. Read it yourself. It’s scary and conclusive.

In response to the pesticide revelations we have the ghost of “there is no link between smoking and lung cancer” public relations shills telling us that ‘the concentrations of poison in wine is like an “eyedropper in a swimming pool”. Yea right, go feed that to your infant, go poison yourself.

Do I feel smarter or smug that I knew there were too many Starbucks, too many fraudulent home loans, too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and now too many poisons in conventional wine? No, actually I am angry and sad. It was not that hard to see, it’s just that there were powerful forces that didn’t want us to look too hard at the truth. Yet when reality intrudes those forces seems so small, so impotent. The Starbucks stock price is in the toilet, the mortgage mess threatens to sink the economy, some rich guys beachfront home will disappear and someone will get a horrible disease from drinking pesticide laden wine.

It’s time for everyone in the wine world to wake up and go Organic and Biodynamic now. The smoking gun has fired its shot.


5 responses to “Stating The Obvious”

  1. As a winemaker I find this very interesting. But let me start by saying I am not (yet perhaps) a convert of organic and biodynamic wines. For the only reason that in 5 years of searching for a good organic wine – i am still to find one. And believe me I have read and searched and followed up on reviews. But the quality is just not the same. I agree that we are not doing justice to the environment. I agree that we should stop or at least start to reduce the use of pesticides/herbicides. But please guild me to some SERIOUS and GOOD organic wines and you have got me sold out!

    PS: I will continue to read and follow your BLOG.


  2. Will, I strongly disagree. The quality is there and in great abundance. So many organic and biodynamic wines are better tasting and drinking than conventional wines that there are easy pickings from the field. I would start with importers like Paul Chartrand who advertises with us. Look at his list of wines red and whites, he has delicious Italian and French wines. Look at the Polenar list too, some of their wines are totally delicious. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.

  3. OMG, Will, you must, just MUST taste one of Coturri’s Zins… or perhaps one of their grenache…. I have converted some serious wine lovers while sharing some of my Coturri bottles!

    If you ever pass by San Francisco, you must check out the wine bar Terroir, which carries just about every quality organic wine from around the world. They are very discerning and don’t stock anything but the best. Since they opened the place has grown a lot. What I like is that their knowledge is abundant and, that they carry Coturri! ;-D

    Better yet, go visit Tony Coturri himself and see if he won’t convert you…

  4. […] his recent blog, “Stating the Obvious”, Jonathan Russo writes about how some things that seem so obviously unsustainable and […]

  5. Jonathan Russo Avatar
    Jonathan Russo

    Janel, I agree. My wife and I stumbled on Coturri 7 years ago and I have been obsessed ever since. We love all of Tony’s wines, including his fantastic blends, and have a cellar full of them. Every year at Christmas I send over a dozen cases to business associates. We’ve spent a lot of time with Tony, at his magical Glen Ellen winery, and, if you check out our “wine making adventure,” you’ll see it starts with a tour of Coturri. We think that anybody taking this tour will experience a life change, and that’s why we organized it. Additionally, five years ago I produced a 30 minute documentary about Tony called “Just Grapes.” It won an environmental film award at the Sonoma Film Festival.

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