Salmos Priorat Torres 2012

Organic vs non-organic wines: which ones taste better?

It has been quite a popular question recently, whether organic wines are not just a healthier option as compared to their non-organic analogues, but also taste better.

IBlametheWine.com is dedicated to mostly organic wines due to their increased health benefits, how well they represent the place the wines are produced at, but also their somewhat juicier and exciting nature. Yet is it true that the overall taste can be described as a better one?
A few blind tastings were conducted and it has been noted in a variety of wine magazines that in some cases people prefer organic and biodynamic wines, but in an equal proportion they also find conventional non-organic wines as full of flavour and complexity as organic analogues. There is a common view that in general there is no difference between two similar wines produced from the same grape varieties, where one batch was grown organically and second not, in terms of subjective flavour perceptions.
You can check a full list of wines already reviewed and the ones that are in the Best Organic Wines top list for some further reference in terms of organic wines, what is to follow here is an exploration of how similar wines from Priorat, Mallorca, and Arribes del Duero performed taste-wise. These four wines are non-organic, but could they be on par with the organic wines in terms of complexity and concentration of flavours?

Salmos Priorat Torres 2012Salmos Priorat Torres 2012
The famous winemaking house of Torres is expanding fast and this time they are taking no prisoners – it won’t be just some Chilean easy-goer, it is a heavy weighted Priorat (well, as I assume it should be!)
You start with smelling this potentially amazing wine and it is fruity and smooth, nice but nothing to say that it is that amazing. A hint of doubt?
You take a first sip and it is indeed very mellow, black and red fruit, floral notes and round acidity (not sure if you can even say round about acidity, but it obviously tastes like it – it is refreshing, yet not at all sharp, but very smooth; this is coming from ripe red fruit, I started to think).
The unusual character of this wine as compared to other Priorat ones is its round vanilla like aftertaste. This is the roundness I was talking about – it is transforming these earthy and slightly mineral notes of typical Priorat to very smooth mouthfeel. Yet enough of this ‘typical’ or not, the main thing is it is very pleasant, yet it is lacking the kick I wanted. The reason you buy Priorat and, say, not Rioja, is this kicky powerful flavour explosion of red and black fruit (like this one), but so earthy and mineral  that it makes your mouth linger and feel ‘abused’ in a very good way.
Ok, I think I have said more than needed, my point is that Torres did a great job, yet a very safe one. It doesn’t mean you should not try and hopefully enjoy it.

macia-batle-reserva-2009Macia Batle 2009 Reserva Privada, Mallorca

This wine is very nice with red berries with forest fruit, touches of vanilla and cloves; it is fruity and spicy and definitely will not disappoint in terms of the length, warmth and roundness.

It doesn’t have an acidic astringency of red fruit either, you can guess that the climate is really warm and the fruit is very ripe. The grapes used are the local ones – Manto Negro and Callet with an addition of Cabernet Sauvignon.
It retails on the premium side of things – £25.6 at The Sampler, and will be appreciated by real lovers of Spanish wines  and rare and obscure grape varieties; yet it doesn’t offer something very unique for the price and it is body will be just a bit too light matched with stronger meats, cheeses and barbecues. Try with some meaty starters or tapas to get it on par with food (leave more heavyweights like Priorat for the rich main courses).

Coma Vella 2009 Priorat mad d'en gilComa Vella Priorat 2009 (Catalunya, Spain)

This wine is also fairly expensive at £22, sourced at Waitrose Cellar.
Classic strong Priorat, very juicy, abundant red berried (strawberrries) and black fruit together with sweet spice, with just touches of wood – this style is young and fresh even though it is 2009 vintage.
You will get the expected woodiness, round and smooth mouthfeel, yet they managed to preserve amazing concentration of black fruit flavours. The label is very confusing and very hard to read, yet it doesn’t need  a swirl to taste the fruit of this wine – it is so pronounced. As alcohol is on the higher levels try to match it with your succulent and spicy main, to fully match the flavour/strength balance.

14289_pHacienda Zorita Marques de la Concordia Tempranillo 2011

This red wine retails for £9.99 at Majestic Wine. DO Arribes del Duero is located at the heart of Douro valley (close proximity to Ribera del Duero).

You open the bottle and the light wave of warmth is what you feel straight away. You smell the barrels and vanilla strawberries -the oak and fruit are integrated together and quite prominent.
Taste-wise it is not going to let you down- the fruit is generous, the oak is prominent, but not overpowering the fruit. This red wine is elegant and juicy – quite typical for Spain, yet with an elegant and easy going finish. Hacienda Zorita enjoys a very exciting history as well: it was established back in 1366 – this estate was donated to Dominican Order. Christopher Columbus stayed in the estate back in 1487.

To sum up, you can see now that these four wines display different flavour characteristics, some of them are more complex or concentrated, some of them are very typical to what you would expect; and some are not. Same will apply to organic wines. Some people will argue that organic wines will be more terroir-driven, that is when they will show the qualities of the soil, climate and viticultural manipulations more precisely; which is true, but also it doesn’t mean that the flavours are necessarily better. Organic skeptics will say that conventional wines taste better because of some additional treatments to further enhance flavours, yet as you can see, if you compare these four wines with their analogues in the Best Organic Wines, some organic ones are very concentrated and complex as well.

It will come down to a particular wine, its story, aromas and flavours and your palate to say which one of the two (organic vs non-organic) you will prefer, but you should not have misconceptions that there should be major differences.
About The Author

Dimitri

Dimitri is passionate about wines, food to go with it, happy & healthy lifestyle, digital marketing, start-ups and entrepreneurship. www.IBlameTheWine.com is about new organic wines in the UK, what to buy or avoid on the retailer shelves; tips on healthy and happy wine lifestyle, but also provides reviews and rankings for organic wines. Get in touch please, I am always on a lookout for new ideas and connections! Cheers.

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