Over the last few years there has been much emphasis on a more natural way of living, and in producing “natural” wine. But what’s really going on with this organic and biodynamic movement. Are the wines really that good? Does it make any difference at all?
Science has proven that the organic and biodynamic farming improve soil quality and overall vineyard health. Professional palates claim that the resulting wines have stronger, and more vibrant tastes than wines not produced in this manner. While there have been a handful of scientific studies, and many more vignerons advocating the practices, the proof is, as they say, “in the puddin’.” Or in this case, the wine!
2013 Medlock Ames Chardonnay (Alexander Valley, CA)
My first wine pick comes from organic vineyards in Alexander Valley. Now, I will be the first to admit that when it comes to Cali Chard I used to be a hater, but upon tasting the complexities of this wine, I was pleasantly surprised. The winery atop Bell Mountain runs 100% on solar power and of their 300 acre estate, only 55 acres are under vine. There are many reasons behind this but the biggest one is to preserve the natural environment resulting in more nuanced and flavorful grapes. They certainly made the right decisions when making with wine. The judicious use of oak explodes on the palate with fresh coconut and lemon curd followed by wild fennel, green apple and toasted sesame. Thier secret is 25% of this wine was aged in stainless steel (the rest french oak) so the unctuous texture does not overwhelm that palate. This wine is bold and beautifully balanced, definitely not one to miss.
2012 Vignobile Réveille “Ultra Violet” (Côtes du Roussillon, FR)
Another wine that I am very excited about is one from Roussillon. Vignoble Réveille makes a wine that has all the signs of a typical blend from south of France, that is, until you open it. Appropriately named “Ultra Violet” this wine is 70% Syrah, 15% Grenache, 10% Carignan, 5% Mourvedre. Now, I have mentioned before that I love Syrah and that is the first reason I was drawn to this one, but it has a bit more character than your average spicy dark fruit and violet studded profile. It certainly has all of those things but presented in a much more lively and pure expression. Vignoble Réveille translates to “wake vineyard.” France Crispeels chose this name to convey the vitality of the mountainous landscape where her vines are tended and her unique wines are born. The biodynamically certified vineyards sit upon a rare type of metamorphic rock high in Vallée de l’Aglyin. The “ultra violet” blend boasts a solid and distinct mineral backbone, that is complemented by plums, dried cherries, and that delicious spice and bramble I have come to know and love.
Whether you are serious about wine or just like to enjoy a glass here and there, these two wines are very different and distinct, yet sure to awaken your palate to the beauty of the natural world.