Every year the month of September is National Organic month to bring awareness and education to consumers on products and brands from all around the world. I personally do the best I can to limit additives or preservatives in the foods that I purchase so promoting organic and more natural wines is my pleasure. This week our Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) crew is hosted by Gwendolyn of taking us on a tour of organic wines from around the world. I’m featuring wines from both Bonterra (California) and Cono Sur (Chile) where both wineries are focused on producing wines that are not only organic, but also with some being vegan and biodynamic. For those looking to consume more natural products and for wineries focused on sustainability and protecting their environments these wines are for you.
Cono Sur is a subsidiary under the Conca y Toro brand that many may be familiar with. The name Cono Sur comes from the shape of South America as the “southern cone”. They are located in in the Colchagua occupying about 2,200 acres across 10 major wine regions including Aconcagua Valley, Casablanca Valley, San Antonio, Maule, Biobio and 5 regions in the Colchagua. They have quite the diverse geography surrounded by the Andres Mountains to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West. The Atacama Desert is to the North with ancient glaciers to the south. I’ve always wanted to visit Chile, especially since I’ve owned chinchillas at a young age since I’m allergic to most other pets and the Andes Mountains is where they originate from.
|My chinchilla, Bobbi, 17 years old|
Cono Sur was founded in 1993 and have a lengthy background in producing organic wines since 2003. As of 2019 they also are certified vegan as well. Cono Sur is the second larger producer in Chile for organic wine production. Their focus is to look for the “natural balance” between nature and their impact to it. They use a number of sustainable practices including using geese in the vineyards to fight off pests as well as garlic attached to the vines that ward off undesired pests known as “burrito”. They are the first in the world in 2007 to use delivery. The workers also use bicycles around the property for vineyard management.
The 2020 Cono Sur Chardonnay is made from 100% organic Chardonnay grapes from the San Antonio Valley and is vegan. The wine spends about 6-12 months in stainless steel. They used screw caps for this wine and in 2002 they were the first winery in Chile to utilize screw caps. The wine was pale yellow in color with aromas of green apple, lemon and tropical fruits. On the palate the wine was surprisingly airy and light, but clean with refreshing acidity and flavorful showing mostly pineapple, pears and some lemon citrus. A really fantastic every day wine, especially at $11.99. ABV 13.5%
Bonterra was one of the first wineries I became familiar with when I started learning about organic wine and it’s no surprise since they have been producing their wines organically since 1987. Located in Mendocino County in California Bonterra is owned by known Fetzer Vineyards.
Bonterra is a winery that is aimed at saving the planet using 100% green energy, recyclable material for packaging and being both and . Also, five of their estates they are Demeter certified biodynamic. Back in 2016 they earned the title of being the first organic winery to be “Winery of the Year” with the Wine Enthusiast.
|Map of Bonterra's grape sourcing regions|
As their website states, “soil is everything”, and they utilize various methods to care for it. They have chickens and sheep where the animal deposits help with the soil to be fertile and allowing them to wander through the vineyards helps to aerate the soil. They use both compost and cover crops which attracts wanted bugs and adds nitrogen and looser soil.
The 2020 Bonterra Chardonnay is also produced from organic grapes. More deeper straw colored than the prior wine. Lots of banana notes and toasty vanilla aromas. A very different Chardonnay due to the way in which it was made. The grapes are sourced throughout California and some of their own estate organic vineyards at Blue Heron Ranch and McNab Ranch in Mendocino. After the grapes were pressed, 70% of the wine is fermented in oak and secondary malolactic fermentation. It then spends 6 months in stainless steel and new and neutral American oak.
On the palate this Chardonnay was creamy, again showing tropical fruits and banana with buttery vanilla notes from the oak. This used to be more preferred Chardonnay when I started drinking wine, but I have gravitated more towards the Cono Sur style. If you enjoy the use of oak with your Chardonnay and the creamier, buttery flavors, then this wine is for you. SRP $14, ABV 13.5%
The Wine Pairing
I sampled both of these organic Chardonnay with a pasta dish with shrimp combined with sun-dried tomatoes and grilled zucchini from my garden. My preference in pairing for this dish was the 2020 Cono Sur Chardonnay. The brighter acidity and tropical and citrus flavors lent better to the sauce and vegetables versus the creamier and toasty notes of the 2020 Bonterra Chardonnay.
The organic wine market is quickly starting to take over still wines growing at a rate of 24% over the 14% for still wines. Currently the market totals about $54.5 million for organic wines and is targeted to be at $1 billion in 2024 claimed by IWSR. I think the more educated we get as consumers and the or natural products become available on the market, you’ll continue to see these numbers rise. I don’t know about you, but I like to look at a label and be able to pronounce the ingredients listed. Companies that care about the environment and their consumers like many of these organic and/or biodynamic wineries will have my support.
Join my fellow organic food and wine lovers on a live Twitter chat this Saturday @ 11am EST at #WinePW. See you there!
- Robin Bell Renken brings Organic Wine – Sustainability and Beyond (Plus Recommendations and Pairings to Crushed Grape Chronicles
- Camilla Mann suggests Sustainably Sourced Seafood + Organic Wines: Rock Crab Claw Crêpes with Bonterra’s 2020 Chardonnay on Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Wendy Klik is Drinking and Dining Sustainably and Organically on A Day in the Life on the Farm.
- Terri Oliver Steffes sees Slow Wines and Organic Farming with Lettuce Grow at Our Good Life
- Nicole Ruiz Hudson presents a Chardonnay and Chicken Showdown: Chile vs. California on Somm's Table
- David Crowley offers an Organic Wine Pairing with Veggie Burgers on Cooking Chat
- Linda Whipple suggests Vegan Black Bean Burgers and Organic Wine: a Planet-Conscious Pairing on My Full Wine Glass
- Cynthia and Pierre Ly present Mystery Organic Wine “Le Vendangeur Masqué” with Crêpes Dinner and Economics on Traveling Wine Profs
- Pinny Tam goes with Organic White Wines: Bonterra Chardonnay, Cono Sur Chardonnay & Sauvignon Blanc Paired With Asian Vegan Dishes on Chinese Food and Wine Pairings
- Martin Redmond offers Sustainable Chardonnay and Pinot Noir Paired with White Pizza on ENFYLZ Wine Blog.
- On Wine Predator, Sue Hill and Gwendolyn Alley have AmByth’s Natural Wines, Biodynamic Farming for the Future.