Provenance has become one of the biggest trends in the food and drinks industries in recent years. So it’s perfectly natural that just as we’ve seen a rise in demand for organic food, so there’s been a commensurate increase in organic wines.
Just to be clear, the term ‘organic wine’ indicates that grapes are grown without the use of artificial pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. In addition, certain additives are banned from use in wineries, and lower permitted levels of added sulphur dioxide are imposed.
It’s not always a straightforward process, especially when so-called ‘spray drift’ from a neighbouring non-organic vineyard can potentially wreck a grower’s efforts.
Organic wine producers also need to be officially certified by country-specific bodies – in the UK, it’s the Soil Association – to be able to use their recognised organic logos. This requirement, along with the higher cost of farming without chemicals, tends to make organic wines a touch more expensive than their non-organic equivalents.
The hard work is paying off, however, with several organic wines performing spectacularly well in this year’s IWSC. Fortant’s Grands Terroirs 2018 from Minervois in the Languedoc, scored 97/100pts, impressing judges with its “elegant and savoury” style and notes of “black plum, hint of liquorice and a beautiful long finish”.
From Canada, Hidden Bench Estate’s Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay 2017 was another Gold Medal winner, scoring 95/100pts and offering “candied lemon, stone fruits and flinty minerality”. Bodega Argento’s Estate Reserva Organic Fairtrade Malbec 2018 from Argentina achieved the same score, drawing praise for its “ripe and expressive notes of violet, plum and blackberry”.
Wine is essentially a natural product to begin with, but delve a little deeper and you’ll find organic producers around the world taking extra steps to ensure that their wines are just as nature intended. Here are the pick of the best organic wines from the IWSC’s recent tasting.
Grands Terroirs 2018
Elegant and savoury Syrah-forward, Northern-Rhône-style nose with black plum, a hint of liquorice and a beautiful long finish. A delicious wine with a serious profile and intensity that lingers. Delicious and very serious. 14.5%
Riesling Sélection de Grains Nobles 2017
Domaine Albert Hertz
Extremely concentrated nose of lime curd, honey, ginger and butterscotch. Very concentrated and complex palate with ripe stone fruit and a firework display of fresh acidity and rich golden sweetness, creating a long, clean, splendid finish. 11.1%
Felseck Vineyard Chardonnay 2017
Hidden Bench Estate Winery
Unctuous and layered, this cracking Chardonnay presents sweet and savoury flavours aplenty. Packed with candied lemon and stone fruits, the flinty minerality offers a lively sensation throughout while graceful mouth-watering spice leads toward a long, toasted finish. Top marks. 13.5%
Ungsteiner Weilberg GG Riesling 2017
Weingut Karl Schaefer
Intent, confident and perfectly paced, nose shows the way with citrus and tropical notes then palate embraces in lavish, glowing ripe peach and mango richly balanced with Christmas cake and sparklers of acidity. Poised with handsome typicity. 13.3%
Estate Reserva Organic Fairtrade Malbec 2018
Ripe and expressive notes of classic violet, plum and blackberry nuances mingle with sweet spices and a satisfying toasty note. Harmoniously balanced, with a refined tannic structure and fabulous length; this is a wine of outstanding quality and finesse. 14.5%
Château L'Hospitalet Grand Vin 2018
Gorgeous nose: very pure, ripe, and aromatic, with garrigue, coffee and sweet wood spices. It has a lovely texture, silky and smooth with a positive weight of fruit on the middle palate; soft, ripe and structured with great complexity. Elegant and stylish. 14.5%
Smoky, spicy and floral with well defined fruit and herbaceous notes. Great sense of place and varietal identity, lovely minerality and pink grapefruit on the finish. 13%
Contrada Salvarenza Vecchie Vigne 2016
Vanilla, honey and cinnamon enticingly exotic nose leads onto a rich, well structured minerality with saline notes. Generous lemon richness throughout with long balanced finish. 13%
Single Vineyard The Fuder Clayvin Chardonnay 2015
Broad and complex aromas of jasmine and menthol blend with toasty and nutty characters, and a hint of smokey bacon. The well paced acidity keeps this wine feeling energetic and youthful. 13%
Casal Duro 2013
Fattoria La Vialla
Complex make-up of crème de cassis, blackberries and morello cherry with earthy, leafy and savoury touches. The delicate palate shows graphite minerality, with freshness carrying through to the long finish. 14%
Tavernello Organico Sangiovese 2019
A characterful and harmonious wine boasting precision and restraint. The blue fruits and expressive herbal aromatics, combined with its mineral core show depth of flavour with appealing fine-grained tannins. 12.5%
Auritea Cabernet Franc 2016
Intense, earthy and dense. Tons of red fruit with a touch of vanilla pod and black pepper. Fresh, elegant and smooth with a nice touch of minerality on the finish. 14.5%
Don Tommaso 2016
Savoury, complex and layered with classic black cherry and leathery aromas. Lovely dusty tannins around a black fruit core. Well balanced, with a long and rewarding finish. 14.5%
A generous and complex palate with juicy red fruit, rosemary and blackcurrant leaf flavours. The oak is well-considered and tannins are fine. A long, mouth-watering finish and great typicity. 13.5%
Domaine Fernand Engel
Perfumed nose, with a delicate, harmonious palate of tropical fruit, roasted pineapple, caramel and white truffle. Sweet but still fresh, clean and vibrant. 12.5%