How would one know which organic wines are new? Apart from meticulously checking all retail outlets, inlcuding online ones, (if that even possible!) you can visit a trade show like London Wine Fair and check out these new bottles which were imported to the UK recently or simply seeking their entrance to the lucrative UK market.
I was delighted with the visit – two days of tastings and a few interesting conversations with winemakers, distributors and importers.
Let’s get cracking with my short tasting notes for a few dozen of these new organic wines. I wonder which ones are already on the shelves and which ones are still struggling to find the place in the UK.
Vina Los Valles Rioja 2011 is made of 70% Tempranillo and 30% Graciano – it tastes fruity, expressive of red currants, it is fresh and light. Good straightforward flavours without major complexity are all here.
Pena Aldera Rioja Reserva 2009 – this attractive label depicts a rich wine with delightful aromas of strawberry, it is very perfumed slightly brambly. Flavours are somewhat different – it appears much more savoury and meaty but also thinner moutfeel. It’s a good one, but its nose mismatch the palate.
Ad Libitum 2013 Maturana Tinta. It is a bit of an orthodox way to label a wine from Rioja as there is no Joven, Crianza, or Gran Reserva on it, instead it is just ‘matured’. I am not sure whether they are simply off with it. The wine displays sour cherry flavours and a bit of plums. The taste is quite unconventional and just slightly oaky with just 11 months in a barrel.
Vina Ilusion was a bit of a deja-vu as I have just tasted that wine at the Raw Fair. The wine is slightly off with the aromas, it is simply not pleasant – the wine is thin, earthy, but also lacking fruit. We do not really want this.
I can detect an unpleasant off-putting aromas, which could be just typical for young and organic wines, yet it also shows quite unripe tannins and a lack of fruit, which make this wine not great and not worth your attention.
As opposed to the above mentioned young organic wines its aromas are not off, but still quite weak and uninspiring.
Palate is simple, but not pleasant – it simply doesn’t offer an exciting taste. Sad times.
I must admit that I do like the label – it is green, attractive, clearly depicting that the wine is organic, and simply visually creative.
The wine’s aromas are light, so I need to carry on with the tasting. Flavours are of underripe plums and bits of red currants. This eco-Rioja is light, not overly impressive, but not bad for a young organic wine.
The wine is light, fruity, but thin. It will be good chilled, but not very inspiring. Yet I should mention that the producer is a very passionate one, committed to organic viticulture and also has a line of soaps and jams, made from organic produce. I have also tasted their whites made of the most widely planted variety in Spain – Arien. The producers tend to claim that the wines are light, but flavourful, yet I will agree with the critics – the wines are very neutral and do not offer a great deal of flavour unfortunately. I will be OK with adding some soda water to it and sip when it is over 35 degrees outside though.
Navardia Rioja Graciano on the other hand offers more colour and more fruit. Graciano gives much lower yields, quite more tannic and gripping. It is so far one of the best tasting and exciting new organic wines here at the show.
A representative of Navardia also told me that this family winery has a big heritage lasting just over 100 years. It was switched to organic farming, yet noted that they blame the economic crisis for the difficulties of convincing people to buy organic. I also agree with them that the growth of organic food movement will drive the sales of organic wines too, yet these days the major problem is the price – in most cases organic wines also cost much more.
Cartan from Navarra, Vino de Autor, is made from Tempranillo and Garnacha. Their 2014 vintage is light but perfumed with typical flavours of strawberry and plum. The wine if fresh and there is no oak at all. It tastes lively as it is young, but with a bit of a kick from the stalky tannins.
It is also an organic red from an up-and-coming region of Montsant in Spain, which just borders with Priorat. The aromas are quite restrained, but the flavours are juicy and more approachable than you can get with super heavy examples of Montsant wines. Finish is medium, but you also get to taste some nice and ripe tannins. It is a good one.
S’Heretat is a wine from Mallorca. It has a sweetish nose, but very juicy and meaty. This organic red wines has some interesting animal hints and also surprisingly refreshing with the savoury notes. It is indeed an interesting combo. Very much recommended to try!
This local grape variety is rather interesting with juicy, round, and fruity layers of flavours. This wine is not overly acidic, but quite tannic. The winery belongs to a second pioneer of organic winemaking in Spain (I guess after Albet i Noya), the story is very satisfying with a few details how they plant fennel in the vineyards and also allow bees to fly around and aid to the organic processes.
Dalamara Paliokalias 2012 from the famous wine region of Naoussa in Greece was presented by Maria from the Southern Wine Roads. Their wines were already featured prominently here (have a look at my review here), so I am expecting a lot from this wine. It is light but very perfumed on the nose; its palate is dry, restrained and screaming for food. As story about Dionysus and the wines was well received as it simply makes a tasting more interesting.
I then swiftly move to the company I know – Vintage Roots. The wines are most prominently featured at ‘All Organic Wines‘ search tool. They had representatives from a winery producing a range of organic wines under Ijalba brand. Their Tempranillo 2014 is young and quite impressive. Crianza 2011 is a very good quality Rioja, matured and aged. I felt strongly for their Graciano 2012 organic wine – it was matured in barrel for 6 months and shows a lot of perfumed aromas. If you ant to know more about Vintage Roots and this Ijalba Graciano 2012 wine please see my review here. They told me a story how they established this vineyard by laying suitable soils over the concrete thus creating an interesting and challenging conditions for the vines, which are to produce intensely perfumed and flavoured grapes.
I am convinced that the stories and unique flavour profile of both Rioja wines made from organic Graciano grapes make them very exciting to try. At the same time some organic wines listed above did not rise to offer anything in terms of a flavour, majority of them simply lacking fruitiness. I hope you now have a few wines notes as ‘to try’ and some ‘to avoid’.
Remember to come back every month for your regular Wines to buy or avoid feature!