Fact Sheet: Going Green | Natural Wines

Winemakers around the world are waking up to the fact that natural farming practices produce healthier vineyards. More and more are opting for non-chemical techniques like rotating cover crops and hand hoeing weeds. Yet producers typically don't try to sell their wines as eco-friendly: Few labels say organic, Demeter (a term common in Europe) or biodynamic (the name of a serious-minded approach utilizing New Age-type methods that are gentle to the earth, such as farming according to the phases of the moon).

Are Eco-friendly Wines Better? You'd be hard-pressed to distinguish sustainably produced wines by taste. But it's reasonable to assume that a winemaker who devotes extra labor and expense to environmentally sound practices will turn out an honest wine.

10 Top Bottles

2002 Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Bürklin Estate Riesling ($18) This 16th-century winery—the largest family-owned estate in Germany—has proven it can change with the times, converting to biodynamics in 2001. Its dry Riesling is soft and luscious.

2002 Nikolaihof Hefeabzug Grüner Veltliner ($26) Founded in 985, Austria's oldest winery is strictly biodynamic. One result is this crisp, dry white, with a plump texture and lovely fruit.

2002 Origin Napa Gamble Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc ($25) Winery partners Bill Davies and Tom Gamble are Napa Valley aristocrats who are committed to sustainable agriculture. This vibrant white is equally aristocratic.

2001 Iron Horse Estate Chardonnay ($25) This family-owned winery, located (fittingly enough) in Sonoma's Green Valley, practices a labor-intensive version of natural farming. Its Chardonnay is rich but graceful, packed with vivid tropical fruit.

Larmandier-Bernier Terre de Vertus Champagne ($49) Pierre Larmandier is a Champagne maverick and the region's rare organic winemaker. So crisp it's energizing, this is one of the driest Champagnes you'll ever love.

2001 Brick House Cuvee du Tonnelier Pinot Noir ($45) In Oregon's Willamette Valley, Doug Tunnell is one of the few winemakers who puts organic on his label. This Pinot is elegant, firm-bodied and beautifully aromatic.

2001 M. Chapoutier Belleruche Rouge Côtes-du-Rhône ($14) In the shadow of the Hermitage hill, this 200-year-old winery began converting to biodynamics when Michel Chapoutier took over in 1990. His Grenache-Syrah blend is juicy and tangy.

2000 Benziger Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($42) This well-known Sonoma family winery, now being farmed biodynamically, has turned out a smooth, mouth-filling, deeply colored Cabernet.

2000 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel ($35) A sort of transatlantic Châteauneuf-du-Pape, this fruit-focused California red is a joint effort of American importer Robert Haas and France's Château de Beaucastel.

2001 Clos de la Coulée de Serrant ($84) Loire winemaker Nicolas Joly was a pioneer in biodynamics in1980 and is still one of the movement's leading figures. His 100 percent old-vine Chenin Blanc is one of the world's most distinctive wines.

DownComment IconEmail IconFacebook IconGoogle Plus IconGrid IconInstagram IconLinkedin IconList IconMenu IconMinus IconPinterest IconPlus IconRss IconSave IconSearch IconShare IconShopping Cart IconSpeech BubbleSnapchat IconTumblr IconTwitter IconWhatsapp IconYoutube Icon