Showing posts with label organic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organic. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

It's Paso, It's Organic, And It's On Sale

Organic is such a big thing these days in wine that it even turns up in bargain brands. Paso Zinfandel, from Vine To Table Vineyards of Santa Maria, uses organic grapes in their 2021 Paso Robles Zin. There is nothing much on the label except the typical words touting Paso Robles" “long hot days and cool nights," the perfect climate for Zinfandel.

Alcohol stands at 14.1% abv and it was on sale for $13 at my local Whole Foods Market. I bought it primarily for cooking, but it turns out that it tastes pretty good on its own.

The wine is a medium-dark garnet. The nose gives off aromas of cherry, plum and a fistful of oak notes - clove, cigars, cinnamon, anise. The palate is dark and savory, with the plum and blueberry flavors joined by earth, white pepper and tomatoes. It is a complex wine, and it shows the chalky minerality for which Paso Robles is known. It also lent quite a lot to the roast I cooked with it. 

Monday, March 14, 2022

Women In Wine

Ruth Fernandez is the woman winemaker behind the 2020 Dominio de Punctum Petulante White, a pétillant natural, or pét nat, wine introduced last year.  This family winery dates back to 1905, so they are not newcomers to the wine business.  She is the Punctum oenologist, working at the winery in the central part of Spain, southeast of Madrid, the Castillo y Leon region.  She is one of three siblings who lead the winery on a mission to provide organic, biodynamic wines.  They farm their grapes free of any chemicals, pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers on the soil. 

Fernandez says Petulante takes sparkling wine a step farther, with minimal intervention and maximum flavor.  The grapes involved - there isn't much in the way of a tech sheet available - are likely Verdejo, Viura or a combination of the two.  This wine has alcohol at 13% abv and retails for $22.

This white, sparkling wine is actually a cloudy yellow color and brings a savory nose of citrus, floral and minerals aplenty.  The palate also rings the citrus bell, with a bit of apple and many minerals thrown into the mix.  The bubbles are scant, but the flavor is what you're really after, right?  This wine delivers white wine flavor by the carload. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Big Red Wine From Chile

Primus claims to be the first of its kind, a marriage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Carménère, the two main red grapes of Chile.  The winemaking team at Primus have every right to be proud of their work.  Winemaker Sofía Araya and Agriculture Manager José Aguirre helped to transition Primus into an all-organic winery.

The 2018 vintage of Primus The Blend was made from five different grape varieties, all grown in Apalta, in Chile's Colchagua Valley.  The mix is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Carménère, 10% Syrah, 10 % Petit Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc.  The vintage featured a rainy winter and a temperate summer, allowing for a good, long growing season.  The wine was aged twelve months in French oak, two-thirds of it in barrels and one-third in big vats.  Alcohol hits only 13.5% abv while the retail price is a mere $19.

The blend pours up to a medium-dark garnet color.  Aromas of cassis, tobacco and spice are up front on the nose, with a hint of bell pepper in the background.  The fruit is juicy on the palate, with jammy black and red berries and a stout set of tannins.  This wine was made for steak, the bigger the better. 

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Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Bargain Wine From Chile

Veramonte Winery is located in Chile's Casablanca Valley, but over the years they have expanded with vineyards also in the Colchagua Valley.  Casablanca is a great locale for white wines and cool-climate reds, while the Colchagua Valley is warmer.  The winery follows organic practices and has a certificate stating so.  Their importer, Gonzalez Byass, says Veramonte's farming is free of pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizer.  The feeling among the Veramonte staff is that living, balanced soil makes quality grapes.

Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon Colchagua Valley Reserva 2019

The 2019 Veramonte Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 100% Cabernet grapes, then aged in neutral oak for eight months.  The vintage had scarce precipitation, but the winery chiefs seem happy with it nonetheless.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and the wine retails for $12.

This wine looks medium-dark in the glass, a deep ruby color.  The nose is rather rustic, especially for a Cab.  That quality could possibly be due to a limited time in oak, for a Cabernet, only eight months.  There is currant in there, along with bramble and a strong minerality.  The palate is on the rough’n’tumble side, with dark berry flavors  and earthiness showing.  The finish lingers and brings the savory side back for a revisit. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Cali Sauvignon Blanc, Grown Organically

Bonterra Organic Vineyards bills itself as America's number one wine made from organic grapes.  They also make a trio of wines from grapes grown in their biodynamic vineyards.  The winery makes it clear that they have been doing organic farming since long before it was a fashionable trend.  Winemaker Jeff Cichocki feels an organic approach to growing the grapes makes a better wine.

The 2019 Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc comes from a blend of grapes grown in Mendocino, Lake, San Luis Obispo and Sonoma counties.  The grapes were fermented in steel tanks and aged there for six months, so there is no oak effect in this wine at all.  The wine has an alcohol level of 13.3% abv and sells for $14.

This pale-tinted wine has a fresh nose of lemons, limes, grapefruit and minerals, along with an herbal aspect that stays well short of New Zealand style grassiness.  California SauvBlancs usually feature riper fruit, and fuller fruit flavor than those from the southern hemisphere.  The palate on this one is all minerals, with a hint of the citrus in the background.  The acidity is zippy and the finish is long and savory.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Organic Rosé At Organic Brunch

Suzanne Hagins and Chris Condos are the proprietors of Horse and Plow. They both started as cellar rats in the wine biz and started their own label in 2008. They source only organically farmed grapes from  Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino counties. They say their "wines are made naturally with no synthetic nutrients or additives, no GMO’s, are vegan and contain low sulfites." The pair also make cider and they pour their delights in a Sebastopol tasting barn.

I had the opportunity to sample their rosé at the Inn of the 7th Ray in L.A.’s Topanga Canyon. It’s fitting, because, the Inn would no doubt be a place where a couple of post-hippie organic winemakers could feel right at home. The setting is entirely anti-Los Angeles, out in the Topanga woods, with seating areas actually carved out of the natural space. A deer came up to the fence separating the diners from the trees while I was eating Easter brunch. The chef utilizes seasonal, organic foods.

The Carignane grapes for the Horse and Plow rosé came from some of the oldest organic vineyards in California. The alcohol is super low at just 12.5% abv and the juice spent eight hours in contact with the skins, so it has a nice, rosy color. It was fermented in neutral French oak barrels and retails for $20.

The aromas of fresh strawberries and tart cherries burst from the glass, even outdoors where the wind more often than not blows the smells away. Fruity and completely dry, the wine has plenty of acidity for chicken or pork, but I had mine with the dessert selections.

Friday, October 28, 2016

From Big Waves To Big Wine

ZIOBAFFA is an Italian wine, and its creators - Jason Baffa and Chris Del Moro - have brought their passion for filmmaking and surfing to wine. Their search for world-class waves in the Mediterranean Sea landed them in Tuscany, where the Castellani family took them in and made a vintage which was captured on film.

Baffa is an award-winning filmmaker who chronicled his love of surfing in the film, "Bella Vita," developed with his friend Del Moro. The pair shared plenty of good food and beverage while getting those gnarly waves on celluloid. It was a natural - organic, in fact - transition to ZIOBAFFA (in Italian, Uncle Baffa.)

The press blurb says "ZIOBAFFA is bottled and labeled with eco-friendly material, crafted with a biodynamic focus and organically produced grapes, with a focus on sustainable, zero waste production and environmentally friendly bottling, including the innovative Helix reuseable cork closure."

The unusual cork, which looks like a cross between a sparkling wine cork and a liqueur stopper, requires no mechanical assistance for opening. You can access the wine barehanded, even though it is worth some trouble.

The Ziobaffa Toscana is made from grapes organically grown in the Poggio al Casone vineyard, 80% Sangiovese and 20% Syrah. Visually this wine is a black hole - no light gets through at all. Aromas of black berries, plums and currants are soaked in a savory setting of cigars and spice. The palate is fresh and lively, with enough tannins for anything Bolognaise, for sure. You might even grill a steak for it. Dark fruit flavors are laced with a leathery licorice layer that does not disappoint.

I paired it with an amazing cheese by Italian cheesemaker Beppino Occelli, Occelli al Barolo.  After nine months of aging, the wheel is coated with a Barolo grape must, then soaked for two months with another wine, Langa Marc. The Sangiovese fits nicely with the Nebbiolo influence of the cheese. It also plays very well with Occelli’s Testun al Foglie di Castagno, which is wrapped in chestnut leaves.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

Prévu Sparkling Liqueur

You hear a lot of complaints about PR people if you keep your ears - and your Twitter stream - open.  I’m not one of those complainers, because I’ve known a few folks in the public relations game who have become good friends.  PR contacts have also tipped me off to some interesting things to write about over the years.

I was introduced to a product recently through a public relations message, and I’m rather glad I was.  It’s a sparkling liqueur called Prévu.  The diacritical is only decorative, as the word is pronounced PREE-view.

The label notes do a pretty good job of describing it, so I won’t bother trying to rework the message:

"Prévu is a delicate blend of organic vodka and cognac, immersed with black currant, raspberry, blackberry and a touch of violet flower.  From the Cognac region in France, a harmony like no other." 

The drink is only 17.5% abv, a very reasonable level considering that the two main ingredients are vodka and Cognac.  All the ingredients are 100% organic.

There’s a very light sparkle upon pouring, with a pretty purple tint in the glass.  The nose of cassis is pure and pleasant.  There’s a sparkle felt in the sip, along with a nice, fresh feeling and a touch of alcohol - about the same that one feels with a fortified wine.

Prévu is not, however, anything like a Port-style wine.  It’s light, refreshing and very easy-drinking.  The flavor of the currant is out front, and almost unmasked.  A hint of alcohol on the finish reminds me that it is, in fact, a liqueur.  I like it as an aperitif, all alone.  It also makes a good starter for a cocktail.  I tried a little with an iced coffee, and quite liked it.

Simon Tikhman of Simont Enterprises is the guy behind Prévu, and he’s pretty excited about this new entry into the beverage world.

“Prévu is made in France and shipped to the US for distribution,” says Tikhman.  “Right now, it's distributed only in California.  We're just getting our legs under us, getting ready to take off."

Tikhman sees Prévu’s versatility as a big attraction.  "It’s truly a hybrid, with a lot of variety as to how to drink it, how to mix it.  It goes great with brown or white spirits.  We mix it with Champagne, bourbon - we even make margaritas with it!  Mixologists are getting crazy with Prévu.”  I mentioned that I liked it as an aperitif, and he agreed.  He likes his Prévu with a splash of soda and a twist of lime.

The recipes they were pouring at Taste of L.A. showed the drink’s versatility.  A lychee martini that was developed at Spago and a honey whiskey mix from Craig’s showed the light and the dark sides of it.  Tikhman says the response at the event was fantastic.

Prévu is distributed by Southern Wine and Spirits.  For the time being, it’s a California-only beverage.  The 750 ml decorative bottle retails for $30.

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Monday, May 30, 2011


Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the nice things about being someone who is visibly interested in wine is the fact that friends and family never have to think too hard about what to give me on gift-giving occasions.  Hint: it's a one-word answer.

My birthday triggered a very nice influx of bottles, so the wine rack at chez Now And Zin is full and happy.  The first cork to pop from the birthday bounty was a very nice California Cabernet Sauvignon from Mendocino County.

Bonterra Winery is in Hopland, California.  They farm organically, and have done so since 1987.  All the fruit used in making this wine is organic; 81% of it comes from Mendocino County with 19% contributed by Lake County.

Winemaker Robert Blue states on the label his affinity for organic farming and his belief that it produces the highest quality grapes.  Bonterra Winery and their grapes are certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers.  That label on the bottle is even made from 100% post-consumer recycled product.

The Bonterra Cab carries a 13.5% abv number.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is blended with Merlot, Syrah and what Bonterra calls "other complementary varietals."  I don’t know why they are so secretive about it, though.  The wine is a medium-dark ruby color in the glass, and it offers a huge fruit expression on the nose.  Cherries make the big play, with plenty of spiciness.  I pick up the scent of white pepper and a layer of vanilla and cedar.

The alcohol shows too much in the first sip, about 15 minutes after the bottle was opened.  Cherries, cherry cola and a raspberry note struggle to come forward through the haze.

Give it some time, and it settles down nicely.  Eventually it becomes as smooth as silk.  Over time, brambly notes and some graphite show up to augment the plum and blackberry flavors.  Firm tannins are present even on the third night the bottle is open, and the black cherry cola finish stays a long time.

Bonterra has crafted a delicious wine that's downright affordable to buy - or to give as a gift.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Wine Report

A recent article in Wine, by Sonoma State University wine business professors Liz Thach and Janeen Olsen, cites the dramatic growth of organic food and beverages while wondering aloud, "Is organic wine growing by leaps and bounds, too?"

That's hard to say.  The article goes on to explain that organic wine labels don't make it easy for consumers to buy "green," and further make it difficult to track consumer trends.

The Wine Business Institute at Sonoma State did some research on the matter.

The findings show that consumers of organic wines say they are willing to shell out a few extra dollars for wines they feel are eco-friendly.

Wine consumers in general seem confused by all the terminology used in labeling organic wines.  Terms like "100% organic," "biodynamic" and "sustainable" leave consumers unsure of which wines really are organic.

The study recommends the wine industry should try to create a system of terminology that is less confusing.

The authors close the article by asking, "In ten years, will all wine be sustainable anyway?"  We'll find out in a decade or so.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Luis Felipe Edwards Rosa Blanco

The food is great at South Point Argentine Grill on Sunset Boulevard, and Mrs. Now And Zin loves it, so we dine there quite often.  The half chicken with rice is fabulous, the Patagonia salad is great and their sausage is to die for.  I have issues, however, with the way they serve red wine.  In the glass, it's often almost warm to the touch, and that's too warm.  To quote my friend, Art, "When you serve wine at room temperature, the room should be a cave, not the kitchen."  I'm sure you agree.
So c’mon South Point, get the wine right!  And while you're at it, straighten out the music.  South American folk one time, classic rock the next, blaring ranchera on this visit - I'd like to know what to expect when I come to your restaurant.
On our most recent visit, once again I was served a wine that seemed on its way to mulled status.  It was Luis Felipe Edwards Rosa Blanca Organic.  Fortunately, this Chilean wine from the Colchagua Valley did not suffer as much as some others I have had there.  It's essentially a Cabernet Sauvignon, with a bit Carmenere added.  Both grapes come from the same vineyard, one that sits next to a bed of white roses.  That's the origin of the name.
In the glass, a dark purple core only lightens a bit at the edge.  The nose gave away a lot of alcohol early, but that settled down after ten minutes or so.  The fruit rides in the front seat and waves at you when it passes by.  Aromas of dark berries and plums are foremost in the bouquet, while the plums come through strongly on the palate, along with a leathery flavor.  There isn't a lot of graphite or smoke discernable to me, which I found mildly surprising.  The somewhat short finish is the only drawback.