Sunday, August 19, 2007

Notes on Sustainable/Organic Wine Review

Because many of you may not click onto the post following the wine review I would like to summarize some of the knowlegeable comments supplied by Damien Casten of Candid Wines.

On biodynamics, Damien elaborates noting that a key element of this type of wine production is the "application of a closed system ecology" such as that applied by Nicholas Joly whose farm also includes goats, chickens, cows and other animals who contribute to the life cycle of the vine and therefore the wine. Damien also notes that there are affordable biodynamic wines. I've asked him to provide me a list, which I will be happy to try and review (I certainly will never turn down good wine). In my recent exploration, the most affordable biodynamic wine that I tried was $17.99. Unfortunately, it wasn't particularly special and thus not a good value in my view. With the exception of the Cooper Mountain, all of the wines on this list are $15.00 and under, a price range that I can justify as an everyday wine or a wine for a weekend night for my husband and me.

Damien correctly notes that organic wines are those produced without "synthetic" herbicides and fungicides. I had used the definition used in my wine reference books, but it is absolutely true that copper sulfate is used in organic agriculture, which is considered a synthetic.

On Damien's contrast between sustainable and organic, I struggle with this as well. Just consider recent articles questioning whether local foods are necessarily sustainable discussed in a recent issue of Grist. I think that those of us working in this area all have our own individual priorities that may adjust from situation to situation. Take peaches for example. Peaches are one of the "dirty dozen" meaning that they typically contain higher levels of pesticides. However, peaches do not travel well, the ones you get at the grocery store are either hard and under ripe or mealy - very rarely perfect. So while my favorite local fruit farmer is not certified organic, I would rather eat his perfectly-ripe peaches than the organic ones available in the store. But of course, this brings us to Damien's point about looking someone in their eye and being able to ask why their product is sustainable. I'm comfortable buying these conventionally-grown peaches because I know the farmer. Ultimately, however, while organic agriculture may not always be the highest form of sustainability, it's an obvious improvement for the environment and one worth supporting.

No comments:

Post a Comment