Picking out a wine for the holiday season is simple, but picking out an eco-friendly wine is not. When shopping for an eco-friendly wine there are ultimately three words found on the label that one needs to consider: ‘Natural’, ‘organic’ and ‘biodynamic’.
At first glance, ‘organic’ seems the best way to go. After all, winemakers need some fancy and expansive government approval to even use that word on their label. However, different countries have different standards for who qualifies to have an organic label. While one country must demand organic processes in all aspects of the wine-making process, another may deem that the organic label can be used as long as only organic pesticides are used.
The ‘natural’ label can be confusing as well. Usually it means that there is at least no pesticides used on the grapes, however for some wines it means that the growers go the extra mile and take a non-interventionist approach to growing – which means no pesticides, no sulphates and no additives.
Finally, the process of ‘biodynamics’ actually sounds more like some sort of mystical winemaking process. While in its essence it is a very hands-off and self-sustaining system, it involves following an astrological calendar and burying tinctures of natural materials around the farm. Regardless, biodynamics allows the grapes, the animals and the earth to all do their own process, which makes for some of the healthiest vineyards in the world.
Here are our suggestions to help get wine aficionados through the holidays…
Dard et Ribo
This wine is from the St Joseph's Winery in Crozes Hermitage in the Rhone Valley of southern France. It’s a syrah with quite the robust fruity and peppery flavour. The hint of smoky flavour make this wine a perfect pair with a Christmas roast, ham or other strongly flavoured meats. In accordance with French law, this full-bodied red, which bears the organic label, has no pesticides (including organic ones) and no sulphates added in during the bottling process – resulting in a fine and truly organic wine. This fine dinner wine will set you back around $45.
The Semplicemente Rosso is grown at the Stefano Bellotti Winery in the Piedmont region of Italy. This red has the acidity to stand up to stronger flavours, but is easy enough to drink when chatting with friends. It is a good wine to drink with bread, cured meats and cheeses, so for those who want to have a light pre-Christmas party with friends, this wine is a great addition. The best part is that it is labeled as both natural and biodynamically grown. This biodynamic wine will only cost about $14.
Te Arai Chenin Blanc
The Te Arai Chenin Blanc is a dry and refreshing white wine grown in the Milton Vineyards in New Zealand. James Milton is famous in the wine world for being passionate, talented and pioneering with his wine, which is now grown biodynamically in his vineyard. The Te Arai Chenin Blanc sports hints of pear and honey, making it a great pair with seafood or the lighter flavoured foods. It is so beloved that it was featured on Neil Beckett’s 1001 Wines You Must Try Before You Die list. With a low price of $15, this refreshing white wine is a holiday must.
Fleury is created by the Champagne Fleury Winery in the Champagne region of France. This winery boasts that it was the first within the Champagne region to adapt biodynamic practices. At first, owner Jean-Pierre Fleury attempted manual tilling and organic compost to try and improve his wine further, but found the best flavour came from biodynamic processes. Fleury now delights with its perfectly balanced structure, as well as hints apple, pear and strawberry seed. Fleury pairs well with the sweet treats of the holidays, however it serves for a great toasting drink on New Year's Eve or even as a Christmas gift. This bubbly number will cost around $70.
Bonterra Vineyards Rosé
Bonterra Vineyards is one of the most renowned organic vineyards in Mendocino County, California. Their Bonterra Rosé is made with a blend of Sangiovese, Zinfandel and Grenache grapes, which gives a complex flavour with hints of raspberries, strawberries and cherry blossoms. The Bonterra Rosé is grown organically by United States standards, which demands the entire growing and bottling process must be done without any sort of chemical aids or additives, assuring a wholly organic wine. Its refreshing acidity pairs well with lighter dishes like pasta or a salad. This wine costs around $18.