Best wine for turkey day could be a green one
How about a bottle of green wine for your Thanksgiving dinner table?
For the sake of the environment as well as for the quality of their wines, winemakers around the world are returning to farming practices that resemble those of the Pilgrims. That means no pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Instead, wineries are composting and using natural means of supplying the vines with nutrients. Pests are controlled by free-range chickens roaming the vineyards and swallows flitting through the air, eating bad bugs.
This kind of farming imposing fewer ecological costs is based on the principal that we meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Many wineries are working to reduce their carbon footprints by using solar and wind power. Others reduce water consumption, recycle glass bottles and lower the number of tractor runs as part of their sustainable agriculture practices.
The USDA certifies wines grown from grapes using no chemical or artificial fertilizers and without added sulfites as organic wine. Sulphur dioxide has been used as a preservative in winemaking for 200 years. It inhibits the growth of molds and bacteria and stops oxidation in freshly squeezed grape juice. Some people have an allergic reaction to wine when there are sulfites present. In the United States, the USDA allows 350 parts per million of sulfites in wine but it allows only 100 p.p.m. in organic wine, and most organics contain less than half that. Since sulfites are a natural by-product of fermentation, they will be found in wine even when none are added in the winery.
Some organic wines merit the biodynamic certification from the Demeter Foundation. These will have a Demeter logo on the back label, which means the grapes were farmed using the principles developed in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner. Biodynamic farming is regenerative and dependent on interactivity with other crops, trees, animals and insects. Energy radiating from the moon, stars and planets also plays a role.
Our state-controlled wine shops have made it easier to find organic wines. As you browse the aisles, look for the green tags to identify green wines, be they red or white or in between.
I have a few suggestions for starters.
Bonterra Rose 2008, Sonoma, Organic
PLCB #12658, $11.99
This rose is from a blend of sangiovese, grenache and zinfandel grapes that give it a strong red fruit presence. There are cherries, strawberries and raspberries wafting from the glass with a hint of pepper and cranberries following. It is bone dry with a nice acidity to balance the richness of the Thanksgiving menu. Bonterra is an entirely organic label that also bottles Sauvignon Blanc (#17507, $10.99), Chardonnay (#7375, $10.99), Cabernet Sauvignon (#8064, $12.99) and Viognier (#17853, $16.99).
Our Daily Red, 2008, California, Organic
PLCB# 15465, $7.99
A simple, quaffable red blend with medium body but strong color. The aromas are of red fruit jams.
DiMartino Carmenere 2006, Maipo, Chile, Organic
PLCB# 10345, $14.99
The carmenere grape was a part of the Bordeaux blend when it was imported to Chile in the 19th century. Rarely found in Bordeaux today, it seems to have found a suitable home in the hills around Santiago. This is a big-bodied wine with dark, almost inky color. It's a limited-production reserve bottle made from the vineyard's best fruit. The nose is of ripe red fruits with hints of chocolate, caramel and tobacco. It has some oak on the nose and a few years of bottle age, which allows all the layers to meld nicely.
Quivira Fig Tree Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, 2007, Sonoma, Biodynamic
PLCB # 17585, $18.99
Quivira makes a range of wines from biodynamically farmed grapes. This crisp and clean sauvignon blanc shows aromas of peaches and green apple with citrus undertones. Again, the acidity is welcome at the Thanksgiving table.
Coulee de Serrant, 2006, Savanniers, Loire Valley, France, Biodynamic
PLCB #22339, $34.99
This iconic chenin blanc from the Loire Valley is from the winemaker Nicolas Joly, considered a guiding voice for the biodynamic movement. The wine is rich, almost chewy with lots of spice and minerals wrapped around a core of nuts and honey.
Pacific Rim Wallula Vineyard Riesling, 2007, Washington, Biodynamic
PLCB #17860, $32.99
This is a world-class riesling that consistently receives high marks from tough judges. Totally dry with aromas of Meyer lemon and peach, this is a perfect match with just about anything on a Thanksgiving menu.
While we give thanks for our numerous blessings, let's also thank sustainable agriculture for helping preserve our planet for future generations. And may you have a joyous holiday with family and friends.
First Published November 19, 2009 12:00 am