Not too long ago, organic and biodynamic wines were a niche within the world of drinks. But recently, production and consumer interest in this category has grown rapidly, especially as the environmental impact of what we consume becomes front of mind. These wines have also outgrown their reputation for being unbalanced or difficult. Nowadays, many offer refinement and easy drinkability.
FreshDirect Wine & Spirits, recently introduced new bottles that represent some of the best values and greatest innovators in organic and biodynamic winemaking. But before we take a look at them, let’s establish what we’re talking about when we talk about organic wine:
In the US, organic wines are wines made using organic grapes and additives, meaning that they are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides. Additionally, the USDA requires that organic wines have no added sulfites (sulfites act as a preservative that slows down wine spoilage).
Made with Organic Grapes
The USDA has a “made with organic grapes” label, which can be applied to wines that use organic grapes, but contain added sulfites and/or non-organic yeasts or other additives used to shape the character of the wine. Some wines that would be considered organic in Europe, where added sulfites are permitted in organic winemaking, fall under the “made with organic grapes” category in the US.
Biodynamic agriculture treats a farm as a self-contained, self-sustaining organism and emphasizes biodiversity, soil health, and following natural cycles. In addition to meeting the standards for organic farming, biodynamic systems rely minimally on outside inputs—for example, the manure and compost produced by a biodynamic farm may be used to fertilize the soil, which in turn produces crops that sustain the living creatures on it. When employed in winemaking, this emphasis on site-specific resources leads to wines of unique terroir that reflect the land they’re grown on. Demeter, the largest organization for biodynamic certification, also requires that wines meet certain processing standards.
Natural is an unregulated term, although it’s worth mentioning since it has become a buzzword for wines of a certain style. Most commonly, it refers to wines with grapes grown according to organic practices that are fermented spontaneously with no additives, sulfites or refining. The results can range from breezy and highly drinkable to brazenly unconventional and challenging. Again, these are unofficial descriptors, so if you see a wine labeled as “natural,” it does not guarantee anything about the maker’s practices.
Montinore Biodynamic Pinot Gris
Montinore Estate is one of the largest producers of certified estate wines made from biodynamic grapes in the United States. The Pinot Gris comes from its 200-acre Demeter-certified biodynamic and CCOF-certified organic vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley. Ripe aromas of honey-baked apple and spice are framed by notes of mint and wax. A versatile crown pleaser that pairs easily with aged cheeses, spinach salads with blue cheese, and roasted poultry.
Maris “Zulu” Syrah
FreshDirect has worked with Chateau Maris for over a decade. This winery, led by the visionary Robert Eden, is one of the most forward-thinking and eco-conscious anywhere. Built in 1997 in the Languedoc region in the south of France, Chateau Maris is 100% sustainable, has a negative carbon footprint, and employs biodynamic methods. An elegant Syrah with notes of red berries and spice; as an additional benefit, “Zulu” only contains four parts per million (ppm) of naturally occurring sulfites. Pairs well with salad, gazpacho, or poultry.
CaSal di Serra Verdicchio
A blend from several top vineyard sites in Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi in Italy’s Marche region. Crisp and bone-dry with bright stone-fruit flavors and a lengthy finish. Suitable for oven-coooked or grilled fish, roasted white meat, and fresh cheeses
Alpamanta Organic Malbec
This Malbec comes from a fully functioning biodynamic farm in Argentina’s Luján de Cuyo region. Fresh and young, with red plum, cherry, and spice flavors, Alpamanta Malbec pairs excellently with a juicy steak or other savory meats such as roasted lamb or pork.
Blue Quail Organic Chardonnay
Guinness McFadden was pioneer in California’s organic movement, and joined the California Certified Organic Farmers in 1991. Subsequently, famous wineries such as Robert Mondavi, Chateau Montelena, Sterling, Beringer, Navarro, Bonterra, Fetzer, and Piper Sonoma purchased grapes from Guinness over the years, and as time went on, he decided to make wine under the Blue Quail label. Blue Quail Organic Chardonnay is fresh and bright with lush notes of ripe pear and apple with a touch of smoke and flint. A wine built for seafood, shellfish, poultry, and cheeses.
Avignonesi Cantaloro Organic Toscana Rosso
Avignonesi Winery is a well-known and established in Montepulciano appellation of Tuscany that has become a leader in biodynamic viticulture in Italy over the past 10 years. A blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, Cantaloro Organic Toscana Rosso is fruit-forward and smooth with inviting flavors of black cherry, blackberry, thyme, and menthol. A lovely everyday drinking choice that pairs well with many classics from roast chicken to blackened fish.
Era Organic Pinot Grigio
100% organically grown and hand harvested grapes from the province of Verona. Fresh and inviting with bright apple and peach flavors in an easy drinking style. Pairs well with seafood dishes like risotto with scampi, spaghetti with clams, and sole in white wine.
Bousquet Unoaked Chardonnay
A blend of estate and purchased organic fruit from Argentina’s Uco Valley. The wines are un-oaked to let the fruit shine through and make the wines extremely food friendly. Ideal as an aperitif or as a complement to seafood, fish, and goat cheese.
Michel Torino Cuma Organic Cabernet
Sourced entirely from estate vineyards high in Argentina’s northwest Andes. Fruit-forward with notes of black currant and olive. Pairs well with beef, lamb, or game.