Forces of Nature



-Organic wine is a hot concept in this age of green, but a survey of some area wine stores and restaurants turned up a paltry few venues that carry more then one or two offerings. Most wine bars I’ve surveyed carried none.

Then I hit pay dirt one Saturday at Vinoteca’s, located at 1940 11th Street. They offered a whooping eight organic or green wines by the glass.

For those interested in not only practicing environmentally responsible living but drinking will have to search for green wines. Luckily there are varying degrees of “greenness” to choose from so the field of choices widens. There are two types you will encounter: organic and biodynamic wines.

Organic wines are produced using organically grown grapes without pesticides, herbicides or anything ending in “-cide” or added sulfites. A truly organic wine is not only expensive to produce, but hard to bring to market in a stable and palatable condition because no chemicals are used. The number of truly organic wines available is small, hence the challenge in finding wine bars who carried more then a few.

Biodynamic wines are also made from organic grapes but, according the, the farmer also employs principals that cause the grape vines to respond to “all the forces of nature.” Biodynamics is based on the concept of a holistic system of “living agriculture” whereby the soil is nurtured through the “natural forces and rhythm of the cosmos,” writes Karen McNeil, author of the book “The Wine Bible.” The vineyards are viewed in a year-long growing cycle where nutrients and special preparations are added to the soil at the right time and season. Therefore soil nourishments and farming techniques take into account the flow of energy emanating from the sun, moon and stars. The practice is said to have begun in France in 1959, based on the principles of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.

Wines that are organic or green are said to have brighter and fresher tastes and colors. They are purported to express better connectedness to the region or land they are grown from, their “terrior.” Intrigued that there might be something to the healthy growing of grapes and all the sun, moon and stars talk, I explored a few mentioned below.

So you can judge for yourself, here are a few to try:

Alma Rosa chardonnay, 2008
Santa Barbara, CA
Made in the French Chablis style with a hint of oak. The chardonnay shows classic notes of pineapple and orange peel with a minerally finish. Crisp and refreshing.

Alexander Valley Vineyards gewürztraminer, 2009
Apple, lemon, grapefruit flavors with a beautiful floral aroma.

Gavala Vineyards assyrtiko, 2008
Santorini, Greece
Made from one of Greece’s most popular grape varieties. Yellow gold in color. Aromas of peaches and candied fruit are evident. Lanolin-like mouth feel. This wine exhibits the assyrtiko grape’s signature minerality.

Telmo Rodriguez Dehesa Gago tinto de Toro, 2007
This Spanish tempranillo-based wine is dark red and rich. First sips experience spicy pepper, then a hint of chocolate. This wine is top rated by several notable wine critics for its quality and value.

Campos de Luz Old Vine garnacha (grenache), 2008
One hundred percent grenache, which normally is a thinner-skinned red grape that produces a thin light red wine; however, this Grenache is rich and supple. Exhibits dark cherry, black plumb and blackberry flavors.

For organic or green wines close to home, try these local vineyards:

Pearmund Cellars, Fauquier County, VA
Blenheim Vineyards, Charlottesville, VA

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