The Wine Pairing Weekend blog group (#winepw) went organic for September and I’m late to the party! They all gathered on Twitter on Sept. 11, but I wasn’t able to pick up the sample wines til later that day, so whelp, that’s sometimes how it goes, isn’t it? But I say, better late than never, so I’m going to drop a few nuggets on you about organic wine and specifically three really great wines that I sampled! Let’s dig in!
First, what even is organic wine? Easy answer: it is wine made from grapes that have been grown organically. And by organically, I mean, there are no chemical pesticides or fertilizers used; any pesticides or fertilizers used must be organic, such as compost or animal manure and other non-chemical substances. Organic farming can also involve crop rotation and planting of specific cover crops, all intended to to maintain soil health.
But how does organic farming translate when it comes to wine in the glass? Well, I’ll tell you – the “organic-ness” doesn’t materially impact the quality or flavor of the wine. It doesn’t make the wine taste any better or worse than wines made from conventionally farmed grapes. BUT – and this is a BIG BUT — supporting wineries that farm organically is A GOOD THING! And you should do it whenever you can.
Organic farming can be expensive, but wineries that have smart long-range thinking do it because as we all know, climate change is here and we all have to do whatever it takes to help minimize or neutralize our impact on the planet. So I am giving a big round of applause to two wineries today that practice organic farming and turn out delicious wines – and they are a great value, too. Come on, let’s taste!
Bonterra 2020 Chardonnay ($10-$12) If you know me, you know I love Chardonnay. Yep, I do – from everywhere, all the time. There are exceptions of course (when someone goes overboard on the oak for instance). But this beauty – from the big magilla of organic farming – just bursts with roasted pineapple, poached pears, creme brûlée, passion fruit curd – God, it’s good! It’s got a medium weigh, a bit of creaminess and I LOVE IT. I paired it with a tomato tart, which involves an eggy-custardy-mustardy based with ripe, red late-summer tomatoes on top and it is freaking delicious with this wine!
Bonterra has been practicing organic farming for more than 30 years! What? Yes! They were one of the first to produce and sell organic wines and for that, I say, “Bravo, Bonterra!” In fact,every single wine they make – and they make more than a dozen – is either organic or biodynamic. And they keep them priced well, so they’re accessible to all wine lovers.
Cono Sur 2020 Organic Chardonnay ($10-$11) Yeeeee, another Chardonnay! If its possible, I liked this one even a tiny bit more than the Bonterra (just bein’ honest, you know me) – and I think it’s because it has no oak. It was fermented in all stainless steel, so shows a little more green apple acidity alongside super ripe stone fruit and yep, some buttered popcorn (or maybe I just wished I had some buttered popcorn!) It’s fresh, lithe and lively, with a medium weight and I paired it with … cheese. I know – what a let-down, you might say.
But NO! It wasn’t a let-down at all, because the cheese was nettle gouda from Stamper Cheese, which I get at my local farmer’s market. The nettles in it, with a little dried onion or onion powder,r make this one of the best cheeses for white wine.
Cono Sur – with their primary winery based in Chile’s Colchagua Valley – goes deep on sustainability, with B Corp status (huge accomplishment!), as well as certifications for carbon-neutral delivery, organic farming, vegan wines, and more.
They source grapes from multiple vineyards in Chile and have had a mission to make quality wines using sustainable practices and innovation since 1993.
Cono Sur 2019 Organic Pinot Noir ($10-12) Well, come on – this is all cherries and sunshine in the glass! Cherries are often a signature of Pinot Noir, and you know what else is sneaking in? Fresh white mushrooms, adding an earthy aroma and flavor that so perfectly supports the red fruits. I paired it with … some crazy Italian dried sausage and Parmesan and ZING! It was perfect. This light-bodied crowd-pleaser of a red wine has the freshness and brightness to handle a little bit of spice – which the sausage has, and salty Parmesan is always delicious with wine (I defy you to name a wine that is not friends with Parmesan).
If you want to see what my wine writing friends had to say about organic wines, take a look at some of the posts below. And if you want a bit more info on Bonterra or Cono Sur, you can click here for Bonterra and here for Cono Sur. Thank you for the samples – I loved tasting these three wines and being reminded of how good it feels to enjoy wines that are easy-drinking and easy on the planet. Cheers!
- Robin Bell Renken brings Organic Wine – Sustainability and Beyond (Plus Recommendations and Pairings to Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Camilla Mann suggests Sustainably Sourced Seafood + Organic Wines: Rock Crab ClawCrêpes with Bonterra’s 2020 Chardonnay on Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Wendy Klik is Drinking and Dining Sustainably and Organically on A Day in the Life on the Farm.
- Terri Oliver Steffes sees Slow Wines and Organic Farming with Lettuce Grow at Our Good Life
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson presents a Chardonnay and Chicken Showdown: Chile vs. California on Somm’s Table
- David Crowley offers an Organic Wine Pairing with Veggie Burgers on Cooking Chat
- Linda Whipple suggests Vegan Black Bean Burgers and Organic Wine: a Planet-Conscious Pairing on My Full Wine Glass
- Cynthia and Pierre Ly present Mystery Organic Wine “Le Vendangeur Masqué” with Crêpes Dinner and Economics on Traveling Wine Profs
- Jennifer Gentile Martin considers Organic Wines with Pasta and Shrimp on Vino Travels
- Pinny Tam goes with Organic White Wines: Bonterra Chardonnay, Cono Sur Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc Paired With Asian Vegan Dishes on Chinese Food and Wine Pairings
- Martin Redmond offers Sustainable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Paired with White Pizza on ENFYLZ Wine Blog.
- On Wine Predator, Sue Hill and Gwendolyn Alley have AmByth’s Natural Wines, Biodynamic Farming for the Future.