July 17, 2008

Taste is Ignorant of Organic Origin ; Raise A Glass

By Laurence McCoy

Anyone who grows their own veg will testify that their carrots may well come up misshapen, gnarled and twisted, but taste far superior to the pristine version available in the supermarket.

You might think therefore that organic wine will similarly taste better than one produced with the help of chemicals. But it's not always the case.

It's hard enough to grow vines when they can become victim to multifarious pests and diseases. And once the wine is made it too can easily be ruined by the wrong kind of bacteria.

So it's easy to see why pesticides, chemical sprays and additives are often essential.

But the downside is that over the years constant artificial treatment can leech into the ground and simply take the life out of the soil. Organic producers aim is to take the pressure off the hardworked soil and restore the balance of nature.

That means planting flowers in the vineyard for instance, to encourage naturally occurring predators to fight the detrimental bugs, using natural manure, or letting the right kind of weeds grow between the vines.

Biodynamic producers go even further, using the phases of the moon and the stars to dictate when they plant or prune their vines, sprinkling the earth with homeopathic infusions of nettles, or boiled horse-tail! It might sound eccentric, but some of the world's top winemakers swear by these methods, and certainly any producer who goes to so much trouble must be concerned to get the best out of his wine.

Sadly however, for every committed grower there's another who has hopped on the organic bandwagon to claim some kind of kudos and help sell his wine.

Being called organic is therefore no guarantee of a better- tasting wine, but there must be some respect for those who take the difficult route and plough the organic furrow.

For a glimpse of how successful they can be try the widely available Bonterra wines made by the giant Fetzer company in California, or the Rhone wines of an organic pioneer Michel Chapoutier, or check out organic drinks specialists www.vinceremos.co.uk and www.vintageroots.co.uk

BULLY looks a little baffled at seeing a yellow telephone box in the middle of the Bullring.

But it's only the Yellow Tail roadshow dropping into Brum recently to showcase their typically attention-grabbing wines.

(c) 2008 Evening Mail; Birmingham (UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.