Party Planner
May 3, 2010

red, white and green all over

By: Sara Cation
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Party Planner
May 3, 2010

red, white and green all over

By: Sara Cation

Mark Cuff, sommelier and owner of The Living Vine - a Canadian dealer of wines made with sustainable practices - took the time to explain the difference between and the principles of organic and biodynamic viticulture. So, whether it's red or white, make sure your next glass of wine is also green! What is organic and biodynamic viticulture? On order to say it's organic or biodynamic on the label, it has to be certified by an accredited certifier, like Ecocert ( www.ecocert.com) or Demeter ( www.demeter.net). For organic wines, it's a 3-year process of certification. Someone tests the winery's soil and wine - it's a check-box system - and every year, they certify that, yes, the winery grew organically this year, After the third year of growing organically, the winery can be certified organic. Organic wines are just wines made with the absence of pesticides, chemicals and chemical additives. Biodynamic certification is a little tougher. All biodynamic wines must first be certified organic in order to be certified biodynamic. Biodynamic wines have a greater focus on soil health. The vineyard is a self-enclosed, sustainable eco system., moving toward zero input or output. The winery - or a group of wineries together- does its own composting, has its own cattle, etc. It also pays greater attention to the natural world and plans its harvest with the lunar calendar. A full moon directs more energy at the soil. Biodynamic viticulture is actually very close to how human beings grew food for thousands of years. Do organic and biodynamic wines then have no sulphites? No, you'll find sulphites in both organic and biodynamic wines. Sulphites naturally occur in the fermentation process, so it's almost impossible to create a completely sulpher-free wine. Organic wines tend to be lower in sulpher, though. Is there a difference in flavour? Personally, I think they taste better and cleaner, but generally, they taste the same. Consumers aren't going to buy an organic wine just because it's organic. It has to be a good product, too. How do the prices compare? Theoretically, if you grow organically or biodynamically, the cost to produce the wine should go down over time. I find a lot of people who have been doing this for a long time have prices that are comparable to regular wines. It's such a competitive market. Is Canada producing organic and biodynamic wines? In Ontario, a lot of great companies are moving towards biodynamic production. For example: Southbrook Vineyards, certified organic and biodynamic, released 3 new VQA biodynamic wines on Earth Day this year. Frogpond Farm was the first certified-organic wine producer in Ontario. They make great value organic wines. What should shoppers look for? Most LCBO stores have an organic section. Or, look for a note on the tag - most of the time there's a note or mention on the label. The consultants should also know. Wines Shown (clockwise from top left): Southbrook Vineyards, 2009 Cabernet Rose VQA, $19; Southbrook Vineyards, 2008 Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon, VQA $24; Southbrook Vineyards 2009, "Fresh" White VQA $17; Fropond Farm, 2007 Organic Chardonnay $13, Frogpond Farm, 2007 Organic Riesling Icewine, VQA, $32. Availavle at: www.southbrook.com, www.frogpondfarm.com
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red, white and green all over