It’s easy to forget that wine is a living, breathing product. A delicate balance of climate, care from devoted vintners, and generations of history go into every glass you enjoy. With climate change and other environmental threats looming, it’s more important than ever to invest in sustainable practices. That’s why we as wine nerds are so into organic and natural wines- better for you, better for the planet. April is Earth Month, and in honor of our big blue marble, we’re highlighting some of our favorites. While we stan organic wines all year round, we’re excited about these new wines that are ready for summer and doing their part to keep the planet healthy and happy. Save the planet, save the wine!
Nat Cool is naturally cool and funky. Not your typical expression of the Baga grape, this is a light red that is served best with a slight chill. Representing an innovative concept by Niepoort. Hailing from the renowned Bairrada region of Portugal the goal was to express the lighter, elegant side of the flagship grape variety. Aromatic, devilishly delicious, with notes of strawberries, dry roses, and some spice. Minerality, reminiscent of the unmistakable Atlantic climate are embedded throughout making for a seductive, versatile wine that begs for good friends and good food.
Tiago Sampaio is the plucky young winemaker behind Folias de Baco, which he started himself in 2007 in the Douro Valley region of Portugal. He states he was heavily influenced by his grandfather who also grew grapes in Douro who always nurtured his endless curiosity in the vineyard during those early days. After traveling for many years, working in various vineyards, eventually ending up in a PhD program for Viticulture and Enology in Oregon, he returned to Portugal to combine his newfound love of modern winemaking philosophy and aesthetic with the traditions of his homeland (one of oldest demarcated wine regions in the world) that started it all. Today, he continues to push the boundaries of his curiosity, focusing on organic viticulture and natural wines that complement and sustain the naturally preserved land and rough landscapes he calls home.
Togonidze Wine produces fine natural wines with traditional Georgian qvevri-style winemaking methods dating back over 8,000 years. Located in Georgia’s eastern Kakheti region, famous for its long standing viticultural history and fertile environment for cultivating several rare and local grape varietals. The family uses non-irrigated, chemical-free production on vineyards to create the highest quality wines. They are known not only for their excellent wines, but also for their gracious hospitality for all guests who come to visit the winery.
In the last two decades surprisingly few growers in Champagne have managed to separate themselves from the pack. It's not surprising that in such a storied and inundated region it would be particularly hard to get recognition, especially as a newer project. Raphael and Vincent Bereche are two brothers that have done just that. The old domaine was actually founded in 1847, but it was the innovative work of the brothers that turned this into the one of the most talked about Champagne houses in both Europe and the U.S. Building off a strong foundation left to them by their father, they turned their insatiable curiosity into an extraordinarily vibrant collection of sparkling wines that meticulously express different aspects of terroir, vintage, and grape varietal. In order to achieve the quality and finesse desired, the brothers stopped using chemical treatments in 2003, returning to manual work in their vineyards and moving towards biodynamic farming across all their plots. These wines are unique, expertly crafted and possess incredible character while still mastering the classic appeal of Champagne.
Jean-Claude Chanudet is one of the movers and shakers in the natural wine world at large, and Beaujolais in particular. He follows a similar philosophy to the greats of Beaujolais: with very little interference in the vineyard and the cellar. He does not use any chemicals or additives and uses minimal sulfur to create very honest, pure wines that speak for themselves. He continues to follow the biodynamic-organic practises he implemented so long ago to keep the integrity of the land he so clearly respects. Only indigenous yeasts are used in the cellar, and a long, slow carbonic maceration gives the suppleness and softness for which Chanudet’s cuvées have become known. This often overlooked set of vines, tended carefully by a true visionary, between Morgon and Brouilly is sort of a best-kept secret. But the quality of the wines speaks for themselves, endlessly rewarding those smart enough to take notice.