People are lost in a myriad of terms that surround Organic wines.
Organic wines by EU legislation are the ones produced from organic grapes, whereas the U.S. limits it further by adding a requirement that no sulphites should be added during the winemaking process, only naturally occurring ones permitted.
We also hear about sustainable production and further on regarding biodynamic wines, the former implies to a promise to not only satisfy our own needs, but to care about the needs of the future generations. Biodynamic farming means to make a process in the vineyard as ecologically self-sufficient. Demeter Association is an internationally recognised body to certify the wine to be biodynamic.
Finally about the taste, all recent professional tastings concluded that in general there is no evidence to claim that neither organic or their non-organic similar wines taste better, so it is a matter of your beliefs, potential health benefits and overall attitude towards organic produce.
We all want to consume wines that taste great, cost less, are slightly lower in alcohol and show complexity to enjoy ourselves and with friends. My Organic Wine grading system was designed to reflect all of these factors in a following manner:
10 points are awarded for Organic status of wine (fully certified), with points to be subtracted if the additional manipulations were conducted such as adjusting colour, adding sugars or high levels of residual sugars altogether.
1 additional point for no sulphite added wines (please note, that there is no major evidence that sulphites are harmful except of the case of people who are allergic to it – i.e. with asthma)
1 additional point for biodynamic viticulture
5 points for price (here I want to allocate 5 points for all wines between £8 and £20, should the quality justify the price tag; 4 points for under £8 as with current UK duty it is quite difficult to produce high quality wines for lower RRP; more premium wines can get either 5 or 4 points depending on their quality; in cases of a significant overestimate of the value the wine can go down to 1 point).
5 points for alcohol (5 for up to 10% abv, 4 for 10-12.5%, 3 for 13-13,5%, 2 for 14-14.5% and 1 for 15% and more).
13 total points awarded for taste attributes in the following structure:
4 for the intensity and characteristics of the aromas;
5 for the intensity and characteristics of the flavours;
4 for the overall impressions and quality (how representative or typical is the wine, how complex, concentrated, and how long is the finish).
Maximum amount of points possible to be awarded is 35. This would be the wine with low alcohol, fully organic, biodynamic, and NSA; with low price, and extraordinary complexity, taste attributes and quality. Hard to imagine one to exist, isn’t it?
Just to give you an idea of some average value to compare the wines with each other, let’s calculate a score: organic wine (10), £11 price tag (5), 13,5% alcohol (3), aromas (2), taste (3), quality (2) gives us 25 points. The wines above this score will be posted in my Top Organic Wines page, so you can buy them with confidence.
Another example of why this is a good way to grade organic wines is in the lower graded wines, which in most cases you simply need to avoid. For example, an organic wine which was treated with sugar and food colorant for brighter red appearance will score 5 on the organic parameter, 5 for the same price tag of £11, 2 for higher alcohol of 14%, and only 1 point per each of the taste characteristics (3 in total) will be scored only a mere 15 points out of 35, which represents a wine, that is indeed certified as organic, but does not deliver neither on the purity of organic standards, nor on taste. This doesn’t worth your liver capacity!
So scores as low as 5 and ranging to 15 should be avoided.
If the wine scores 16 to 24 – it is acceptable, but unremarkable, an OK wine; but do we settle for less?
We clearly want above the average, so 25 to 30 are very good wines you can enjoy.
Finally, the ones with more than 30 points are an absolute gem and should be treasured, yet of course drunk and enjoyed as outstanding organic wines.