Many grocery stores have expanded their sections dedicated to organic fruits, vegetables, meats and other products in recent years. Watch for the same kind of growth in wine and liquor stores in the future, as consumers become even more discerning about what they choose to drink.
A decade or two ago, an organic wine might have popped up in the marketplace as a mere curiosity. Today, organic and biodynamic (a step beyond organic) wines of exceptional quality are regularly available through private agents across the country. In addition, three organic wines -- two reds and a white produced by Italy's Botter family -- are widely available at Ontario's government-regulated liquor stores and are sold in convenient, resealable Tetra Paks for $13 per litre.
While it's somewhat premature to call organic wines a trend, there's no doubt the industry's on the cusp of broader consumer demand that goes beyond the niche of health-conscious believers. There are more good organic wines being produced today than ever before. And a greater percentage of the organic and biodynamic wine on the market is of the premium category; the same can't be said of regular wine.
Organic wines to try
Organic wines aren't always available at your local shop. The bigger producers are beginning to show up more often (and have their own websites), but artisanal wines are only available in small quantities directly through agents. When you find a good one, nurture the relationship.
Azienda Agricola, Pacina, Italy
Small production of outstanding Chianti Colli Senesi ($29) and Super-Tuscan, La Malena ($42). Chemical-free; even the labels are printed with vegetable dyes.
Boisset, France and Ontario
Some of the greatest burgundies are bottled under the Domaine de la Vougeraie label, whose wines are also biodynamic. The Boisset family is a partner in Canada's premier organic estate, Le Clos Jordanne.
Bonterra Vineyards, United States
America's best-known brand from organic grapes was established in the '80s in California. The company offers premium-quality Chardonnay ($18), Cabernet and Syrah ($20 each).
Anna (Pinot Grigio/Chardonnay), Alex (Sangiovese) and Luca (Nero d'Avola) are well-made Italian wines ($13 each/1 L) typical of their regions of origin.
Didier Cabanes, France
This small artisanal winemaker has a certified organic brand simply called Didier, for its red, rosé and white wines ($14 each). Profits are shared with environmental organizations.
Frogpond Farm, Ontario
Ontario's only all-organic winery produces three wines -- Riesling and rosé ($12 each/500 mL) and Cabernet-Merlot ($16/500 mL).
Malivoire Wine Company, Ontario
Consistent high-quality wines from this estate on the Beamsville Bench, which has one certified organic vineyard, are available year-round.
Marc Kreydenweiss, France
His biodynamic Alsatian whites are classics. Barbabelle ($13), a red from the Mediterranean coast, is an outstanding buy that sells out quickly.
Summerhill Pyramid Winery, B.C.
Sparkling wines produced from organic grapes aged in a pyramid-shape cellar.