Wines with a green light
Pair your favorite organic foods with one of the many varieties of organic and biodynamic wines.
If you love to eat organic foods, why not drink organic wines?
Making an organic or offshoot biodynamic wine begins with keeping the soil and vines disease-free and healthy by using natural ingredients.
This requires eliminating harmful chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides in grape growing and focusing on natural methods (such as using ladybugs to eat harmful grape pests). Each country has specific laws and guidelines regarding organic and biodynamic wines.
Here are some requirements for U.S. organic wines:
100 percent organic: Such wines carry the USDA organic seal, which means the wine is made from 100 percent organically grown ingredients and can contain naturally occurring sulfites in only less than 10 parts per million.
Organic: Wines carrying the USDA organic seal have 95 percent organically grown ingredients and naturally occurring sulfites at only less than 10 parts per million.
Made with organic grapes: There is no USDA organic seal and the wine must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients; it can have artificial sulfites added but not more than 10 parts per million.
A few well-known names of organic wine producers in the United States are: Opus One, Grgich, Sinskey, Joseph Phelps and Quintessa.
Biodynamic farming: This strict form of farming, which follows the ideas of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, originated in the early 1900s. Biodynamic wines are not only 100 percent organic but also must be in balance and harmony with nature. Lunar patterns (watching stars and planets) often come into play with this form of farming to help time farming practices. Compost is handmade.
An example of one preparation used in biodynamic farming can be found in Wikipedia: Preparation 500 — cow manure in cow horns buried in the soil over winter. The horn then is dug up and its contents stirred in water and sprayed on the soil in the afternoon.
Some well-known biodynamic wine producers include: Nicolas Joly (Loire, France); Domaine Leroy (Burgundy, France); Vincent Dauvissat (Chablis, France); Frog’s Leap and Viader (both of Napa Valley, Calif.); Raptor Ridge (Oregon); and Henschke (Australia).
Becoming certified for organic or biodynamic wines is pricey and time-consuming, which can be reflected in the wines’ prices. But thousands of wineries the world over are using some organic or sustainable farming practices but aren’t taking the time and expense to get certified. The quality of wine worldwide is increasing at an unbelievable pace — and it all starts in the field.
Sips at home
Champalou Vouvray 2010 White, Loire, France — $20.99
Clean and correct, this Chenin Blanc from France is off-dry (hint of sweetness) and a perfect pairing partner for spicy food — Asian, Mexican or sushi with wasabi. It has high acid; chalky minerality; and delicious apple, pear and lemon flavors.
Rain on me
Rain Organics Vodka, bottled in the U.S. — $21.99
This is a clean and fresh vodka — distilled seven times to remove impurities. It’s organic, so we know it’s made with natural ingredients untainted by chemicals used in the growing process. This vodka tastes like water and will make the perfect martini — refreshing and calming (to the mind and body).
A dynamic biodynamic
Raptor Ridge 2009 Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Ore. — $23.49
A wonderful Pinot Noir from Oregon with nervy acid balanced by bright raspberry, cherry and cranberry flavors. There is a slight stony character underneath the rich fruit. Try this with salmon, smoked chicken with barbecue sauce, crispy duck or baked ham.
Sips around town
The Local Table
Zach Curren is all over “green” wine to go along with many of his organically produced food items.
“I sell a lot of Chris and Natalie Large’s (of Tulsa) Eco Vino, a California Chardonnay produced from organically grown grapes,” he says.
It sells for $6 a glass. In liquor stores it is sold in an eco-friendly container. Curren also carries Michael Honig’s Sauvignon Blanc for $7.50 a glass and $35 a bottle. 4329 S. Peoria Ave., 918-794-8013
Red Rock Canyon Grill
Proprietor Jeremy Brim heavily promotes the Certified Organic Honig Sauvignon Blanc from Napa, Calif. Go green this spring with this nervy Sauv Blanc at $8 a glass and $31 a bottle. It’s a terrific partner to every seafood entrée on the menu. 9916 Riverside Parkway, 918-394-7625