Robert Sinskey “Marcien” Headlines Some of Amanti Vino’s Favorite Organic Wines.

There are an increasing number of producers throughout the world crafting organic or biodynamic wines. They are made in all styles and price points by farmers leading organic revolutions and European grape growers who avoid chemicals simply because their families have done so for generations. The following producers represent the wide range of wines available to those looking to “drink green.”

Robert Sinskey is perhaps the most well known biodynamic pioneer in the Golden State. His wife Maria is a world class chef and a candidate in the highly competitive Master of Wine program. Sinskey has been a staple on the shelves at Amanti Vino since we opened over three years ago.  His new Bordeaux Blend called “Marcien” is a dead ringer for the best of St. Julien. An herbal nose, displaying aromas of blackberries, cassis and vanilla gives way to an incredibly structured palate which suggests decades of life ahead of this wine. His new vintage of “Abraxas” is spectacular as ever showing notes of peach, apricot pit, minerals and honey, among a myriad of floral aromas that waft from the glass as it sits on the table. Most critics thought Rob was nuts when he uprooted his Chardonnay vines at the height of the grape’s seemingly boundless popularity to plant Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Fortunately, his decision has paid off in spades as his 2006 “Abraxas” was called California’s “most exciting and unusual find” by Dan Berger in Tom Sevenson’s highly regarded Wine Report 2009.

Organic wine making is certainly not contained within the United States. Producers in Europe have been keeping immaculate, organic vineyards for generations, with many more committing in recent years. In the early 1980s many producers in Burgundy’s Cote d’Or realized that they were destroying some of the world’s greatest terroir by overburdening their vines with harmful chemicals. Since then many growers have embraced organic viticulture, including the famed Domaine de la Romanee Conti, which is now completely biodynamic. Even in places like the Loire Valley, Bordeaux and Rioja, where marginal weather makes avoiding chemicals very difficult, an increasing number of wineries are signing on.

Domaine Fontaine Gagnard is one of our favorite houses in Burgundy. Known primarily for their whites from Chassagne and Puligny, including minuscule amounts from Le Montrachet, they have a couple of delicious reds that have been unduly ignored. Their Bourgogne Rouge, which is essentially declassified Volnay from the Premier Cru “Clos des Chenes” vineyard comes in at under $25 and is an incredible value in the astronomically expensive Red Burgundy market.  Their commitment to organic viticulture is rewarded by a distinctive, terroir driven Pinot Noir with subtle hints of red cherries, mushrooms and a floral quality reminiscent of dried rose petals. This is a great everyday red whose mouthwatering acidity makes it the perfect dinner companion.

Not far off, in the eastern half of the Loire Valley lies Domaine de la Potine. While they don’t enjoy the luxury of vines planted in the most heralded vineyards of the Cote d’Or, or the prestige that comes with them, their passion for organic farming has resulted in some fantastic, affordable whites. Our favorite is their Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine, an AOC just west of Sancerre. The crisp white shows intense notes of grapefruit, peach, grass and a distinct minerality that absolutely screams Loire Valley. At $12.99 its a wine that can be enjoyed everyday as your Sancerre lingers in the cellar waiting for a special occasion.

These few examples just scratch the surface of what is out there for the discerning palate looking for organic choices. We carry almost 100 different certified organic or biodynamic wines at Amanti Vino with countless others from producers who are practicing organic or involved in sustainable farming. Drop me a note or stop by the store to reveal some of your favorites.

By: Will Sugerman (will@amantivino.com)

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