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EPICURE: In the Drink

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Nature’s Nectar

Sales of organic wines in Pennsylvania are up 32 percent, and more and more winemakers are going green. Along with an increased sense of environmental responsibility, the goal is healthier, better-tasting wine. Not everyone can taste the difference, but surely trading chemical residues for higher levels of antioxidants—beneficial in lowering cholesterol and preventing potentially cancerous cell oxidation—is worthwhile. Produced with organically grown grapes (no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, chemical fertilizers, synthetic chemicals or added sulfites), organic wines contain 95 percent natural ingredients; “100 percent organic” wines are exactly that. (In both, naturally occurring sulfites must be less than 100 parts per million.) A label that says “made with organic grapes” means sulfites have been added. Biodynamic farmers take a homeopathic approach, using herbal-based compost starters and field sprays as well as stringent vinification processes. And since they believe plants respond to all the forces of nature, they time their activities in accordance with the cycles of the moon, planets and stars. Robert Peters at Ardmore Wine and Spirits favors California vintners, Frey (Mendocino), Organic Wine Works (California) and Bonterra (Mendocino; pictured), for their great taste and value, but also recommends French winemakers Chapoutier (Rhône Valley), Didier Daguenau (Loire Valley), Marcel Deiss (Alsace) and Kreydenweiss (Alsace). Most of these wines are available at PLCB specialty stores. Look for bottles marked with a green tag, or ask for the organic section.

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