This wine doesn't exist, but if it did...avoid it
A few weeks back I wrote a feature and three reviews on some Organic wines from Germany and Austria. If you didn’t read it, you can here.
My main line of argument is that whilst organic wine is fantastic and the concept of producing grape must using (nearly) only completely natural methods is a superb idea. Nevertheless the quality and appeal of the wine should always be first priority.
In Germany, the country in which I live, the organic sector is growing wildly and many are referring to it as the next big step in groceries called it the ‘Bio Boom’. This has evoked the supermarket winemakers to jump on board and get involved however the tendency with wine, unlike in the other grocery sectors, isn’t to create qualitatively high products. Unfortunately the supermarket winemakers in Germany seem to have produced a line of uselessly mediocre organic wines.
That’s not really a problem though, you’ll remember a few years back that there was a lot of fuss over how we spend too much on wine and about how the Germans don’t, well they don’t – that part of Brian Palmer’s feature was true. The supermarket organic wines aren’t pricey and Peter Mertes (sigh) has a line called BioRebe (literally OrganicVine) which retails at between 3.00€ and 4.50€ - an attractive price tag. I’m not looking to pick a fight but I once made it to a testing of such wines and can say with nearly 100% security that whilst none of those wines were necessarily bad, not one of them was good either.
Other supermarkets (including completely organic ones) have their own ranges of wine and Aldi Nord in Germany has had an organic perfectly drinkable Côtes du Rhône in its range for a few years now (priced at around 4€).
There is however one issue with the big-scale winemakers that gets on my nerves though – why they bother printing ‘Organic’ or ‘Bio’ so large on the label? Surely that’s only a minor detail of what a vintner should be looking for? To me, it is important that the organic declaration appears on the label, if a vintner is going out of his way in the pioneering of naturally-dunged vines with little to no use of artificial pesticide then he should take pride in printing any one of the organic board’s logos on his bottles. But surely the whole point in making wine is the strive for the best quality produce you can get out of the land you grow it in, no matter how it is you chose to cultivate it and the value for money factor (particularly in supermarkets) should be priority number one, just making a poor wine organically doesn’t undo the major defining factor of the wine otherwise: it’s pretty much undrinkable.
Of course its popular to be environmentally concerned, I am myself. Nevertheless consumers are buying bad wine and feeling good about it because they’re quite simply being mislead: whereas organic in the world of fruit and vegetables usually leads to a much richer and refined taste, in the wine world it can only do so if the producer still has quality of wine as its number one driving factor. If a producer is making fantastic wine that is also organic then everyone’s a winner.
The best organic vintners don’t shout about it. You’ll find an organic declaration written nice and small on the back of the label with the adhering organic board’s registration code – good vintners don’t put organic seals on the front labels of their wines – their brand and quality is more important to them than selling their wine to the environmentally-concerned.
These are some of my recommended wineries in Germany and Austria but you’ll find a huge list here at the Organic wine journal – people who produce great wine that also happens to be organic.
Gysler (Rheinhessen), Dr. Bürklin-Wolf (Pfalz), Prinz zu Salm (Nahe), Harteneck (Baden)
Wieninger (Vienna), Nikolaihof (Wachau), Geyerhof (Kremstal)
I don’t mean to go on about it but doing your bit for the environment should also be rewarding, you shouldn’t have to drink average-quality wine just because you’re looking for something organic. There are some excellent organic wines out there, those with the word printed on the label larger than the name of the winery, varietal, vintage and logo aren’t usually good wines though.
What do you think? Found a good organic wine that you think I should know about?