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7:00am Saturday 8th September 2012 in NewsXtra
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris looks at organic wines ahead of Organic September.
A toast to mother nature
With the Soil Association spearheading Organic September, there couldn't be a better time for eco-conscious wine lovers to support Europe's biggest celebration of all things organic.
Better for the environment and a natural choice, green farming initiatives to produce organic wines are becoming increasingly popular among winemakers and consumers.
Organically grown grapes are farmed without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers, which provides a natural haven for a wealth of animal and plant species to live in harmony among the vines, and help yield a healthy harvest.
Indeed, with more and more wineries attracted to a sustainable wine certification, and a style for every taste, budget and occasion, discerning drinkers have the green light to salute responsible viticulture.
Earlier this year, champagne house Canard-Duchene was awarded an eco-trophy by the Montagne de Reims National Park for its wine-making facility at Ludes. Its first organically grown champagne, Canard Duchene Authentic Green (£24 from £30, Oddbins), is a blend of 50% chardonnay, 40% pinot meunier and 10% pinot noir for added fruit and complexity. It's exceptionally fresh with aromas of citrus and honey, a delicate fruity palate and good acidity.
Green party planners can cater to this flourishing wine culture with Sainsbury's SO Organic range of wines (two whites, two reds). Two easy-drinking Italians - the fresh and fruity Sainsbury's SO Organic Soave (£4.99, Sainsbury's), and the tangy and dry Sainsbury's SO Organic Pinot Grigio (£6.99, Sainsbury's) - are both great value.
South African winery Stellar Organics is a major producer of Fairtrade wines, such as Stellar Organics Running Duck, Chenin/Sauvignon, Western Cape 2011, South Africa (£7.95, www.tanners-wines.co.uk). The chenin blanc contrasts well with sauvignon blanc and this off-dry, fruity wine has plenty of pleasing peach flavours with underlying grassy notes. And the label takes its name from the Indian runner ducks which act as the vineyard's pest control squad.
Famous Spanish family winemaker Torres first planted grapes in Chile in the 1970s, and its Las Mulas wines are a fine example of the family's long-term commitment to sustainability.
If you love a New World sauvignon blanc that leaps from the glass, try Torres Las Mulas Organic Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Central Valley, Chile (£8.99, Waitrose). Grassy, herbaceous and bursting with vibrant, tropical fruits and Granny Smith apples, it's a snappy wine that's tuned to shellfish and moules marinieres, especially now that there's an "R" in the month.
Heading to the other side of the Andes, red wine lovers can quench their thirst for a masculine malbec with The Co-operative Fairtrade Organic Gran Reserva Malbec 2011, Argentina (£7.99, The Co-operative). Rich, potent and full-bodied, it's brimming with black fruit flavours, a shot of cherry and a smattering of spice and tobacco with firm tannins on the powerful finish.
The Symington family is the largest organically farmed wine producer in Portugal, and Altano Douro DOC Red 2010, Portugal (£10, Waitrose) is a blend of indigenous grape varieties from the remote Vilarica Valley in the far north-eastern corner of the Douro. Ripe and earthy, this lip-smacking, velvety smooth red seduces and tantalises the tastebuds with its forest floor of brambly flavours and lingering mouthfeel.
But for something softer and more feminine, a gorgeous Beaujolais such as Gamay Raisins Gaulois Lapierre 2010, Vin de France (£11.99, www.virginwines.co.uk) will certainly lift the spirits. Light and refreshing, this silky soft ruby red is testament to Marcel Lapierre's wine-making skills. The Frenchman championed natural wine-making methods in the 1980s, and his happy drinker, bonhomie labels signal out these highly rated wines.
For a far more serious wine with similar finesse, Fonseca Terra Prima Organic Port (£16.49, 75cl, Waitrose) is a wonderfully rich Portuguese port to savour at the end of the meal. This fruity, rich fortified spirit hails from the first organic vineyard in the Douro Valley and the warming, spicy, dense black fruit and silky smooth texture leave a moreish aftertaste that lingers elegantly, and invites several more sips.
:: Organic September takes place throughout the month. For events up and down the country, visit www.soilassociation.org/organicseptember
:: Best buy
A perfect 10... Sainsbury's kicks off its Great British Beer Hunt on September 12 with 20 new-to-market beers battling it out to win a guaranteed minimum six-month listing in its stores across the UK. The 10 biggest-selling beers over the three weeks will go through to a grand final on October 5, where the final winner will be chosen by a panel of expert judges and Sainsbury's customers. For more information on these tasty brews, visit www.sainsburys.co.uk
:: Liquid news
A glass act... Royal warrant holder Berry Bros & Rudd, the world's oldest wine and spirits merchant, has launched a new range of glassware to further enhance the pleasure of wine. The range of seven handmade glasses have been designed by John Jenkins & Sons with the help of Berrys' masters of wine to improve the taste, perception and aromas of different styles of wines. After all, we all love to drink with our eyes, and classy stemware can sometimes be a better investment than trading up for a pricier bottle. The Wine Merchant's Glasses, prices per pair: The Red Bordeaux Glass, £52; The Champagne Glass, £47.50; The White Burgundy Glass, £50, The Red Burgundy Glass, £55; The Port & Sauternes Glass, £27.50; The White Bordeaux Glass, £47.50; and The Whisky & Water Glass, £35. For stockists, visit www.bbr.com