Meet Australia’s top wineries leading the organic wine revolution: “Chemicals distort what nature tries to say”
More Australians are insisting on chemical-free organic wine, writes Des Houghton who compiled this special report.
The organic wine revolution is accelerating throughout the territory with dazzling new vintages to seduce wine lovers.
Those who care about sustainability can look to producers like Cullen, Angove, Stefano Lubiana, Paxton, Yalumba, Kalleske and See Saw for attractive deals.
Wine colossus De Bortoli has joined the club with the release of an organic Shiraz.
And last week, a Shiraz from Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills became the giant killer at the annual Australian Organic Wine Industry Awards.
The 2019 Ngeringa Iluma Syrah ($65) was named Best Red and was named Organic Wine of the Year.
The win was a triumph for German-born winemaker Erinn Klein, who grew up on an organic herb farm her parents planted to supply their skincare cosmetics business.
“Organic farming allows for the optional expression of the grapes and the site,” Klein told me.
“The use of chemicals distorts what nature tries to say.”
In addition to grapes, Ngeringa produces organic olives, fruits and vegetables. Klein said part of the property is being revegetated with native trees, shrubs and grasses, he said.
The organic white wine champion of the year went to Tscharke 2020 Gnadenfrei Grenache Blanc.
Italian-born winemaker Marco De Martino said it was a robustly textured wine with notes of baked lemon and pineapple.
“It’s designed more for the dinner table than a picnic,” he said. Try it with roast chicken or dishes with a creamy sauce.
Organic and biodynamic wine producers from 38 regions of Australia submitted 238 bottles to the judging panel.
Sustainability and biodynamics are nothing new to Cullen Wines in Western Australia. Under the direction of Vanya Cullen, the family winery was certified A Grade Organic in 2003.
De Bortoli Organic Field Blend Shiraz ($17.50) was made from organic grapes grown at Hemley Vineyard in the Riverina.
Australian winegrowers face stiff competition from New Zealand.
New Zealand organic wine pioneer Villa Maria’s new flagship range includes four tantalizing organic wines.
Villa Maria 2020 EarthGarden Organic Sauvignon Blanc ($27) has richness and spice with notes of grapefruit and lemongrass and welcomes undetectable honeysuckle and jasmine in many instances.
Villa Maria 2020 EarthGarden Organic Pinot Noir ($33) is a cheerful vino with dark fruit flavors of boysenberries and blueberries with cocoa powder tannins and sweet smoky notes.
The 2020 Villa Maria EarthGarden Organic Deep Purple Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon ($33) exudes rich flavors of ripe fruit, cocoa, vanilla and spice. The fruit of blackcurrant from Hawkes Bay, tapenade and fresh acidity on the finish.
Pinot Gris is another Kiwi export that is gaining popularity in Australia. It’s easy to see why with the first sip of Villa Maria 2021 EarthGarden Organic Pinot Gris ($27). Charming aromas and flavors of pear, fig, spicy orange peel and hints of jasmine rise from the glass.
It may not be organic, but Villa Maria has also released a deliciously punchy new Sauvignon Blanc.
Villa Maria 2012 Reserve Wairau Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($35) was instantly expressive, instantly appealing.
Brimming with tropical fruit characters, the wine also exhibits aromas of cassis, passion fruit and ripe melon.
Then there’s a range of citrus flavors mixed with rather pungent herbs like rosemary.
It is a resort offering a world away from many El Cheapo Savvy imports of kiwis that have all the panache of fragrant battery acid.