Posts Tagged ‘Organic’
Ivan: Oh, no. You look like you seen a ghost.
Trevor Reznik: Funny you should say that. The guys at work don’t think you exist.
Ivan: That’s why I can’t get a raise.
I know it’s been a while since the last post, so I will answer some of the questions I’ve been asked:
No, I have not fallen off the face of the earth.
Yes, I’m still drinking wine.
Yes, I still write a blog.
And just in case you’re wondering…no, this isn’t a movie review of The Machinist.
There have been a number of new things going on in the WineLife365 household that have served to cause quite a distraction. Mostly good stuff, though! Most recently, we’re finishing up a bathroom remodel. Now I won’t lie to you: I’m not doing the work, but it did make me think about my cooking skills. You see, I’ve built (or repaired) all types of dinner “specials,” and I’ve become quite the Journeyman at manufacturing some highly delicious salads. Like this one…
Like a good machinist, I start by laying out all of my variable parts:
- Baby Romaine Lettuce
- Red Onion
- Portabella Mushrooms
- Heirloom Tomatoes
- Crumbled Blue Cheese
- Leftover grilled London Broil
- Briannas Chipotle Cheddar Dressing
Next, I grab a sharp knife and make all the necessary precision cuts for easy consumption. Finally, I use all my “milling around in the wine closet knowledge” to come up with what I hope will be a highly acceptable application to my Cowboy Salad.
My die to put the stamp on this creation?
The 2008 Anka (Sample, MSRP: $20 US) from Chile! Made from organically grown grapes, it’s a blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, 7% Carmenere, 4% Syrah and 1% Petit Verdot. Whoa…that’s quite a list, but it added up to 100% delicious!
3 Stars out of 4 for the 2008 Anka. With its humongous smoky black cherry, green bell pepper, black currant, black pepper and roasted almond flavor, it was the perfect choice to complete this meal.
What do you get when you mix together the freshest local, organic, and sustainable ingredients and accompany them with a guide to help you create delicious, creative and super simple recipes? The answer: Shea Hess and her website Hungry in Brooklyn. The goal of Hungry in Brooklyn and its host, Shea Hess, is to create, explore and document the local, organic, and sustainable food movement in Brooklyn and beyond.
I stumbled across Hungry in Brooklyn earlier this year, while trying to come up with a post about poached eggs and sparkling wine. Shea’s “Simple in Sixty” YouTube video on “How to poach an egg” immediately grabbed my attention while I was putting the final touches on my post: it was eye-catching, concise and super easy to follow.
I recently caught up with Shea after she wrapped up filming for Season One of Hungry in Brooklyn, and asked if she would kindly share a wine-related story with WineLife365 readers. With much enthusiasm she agreed to write a BYOB about a recent trip she took with her family: they were Sideways in Sonoma!
I fancy myself a foodie, and I do quite enjoy a glass or four of wine each night. As a host of a cooking show focusing on local and sustainable ingredients, I’ve been so inspired by visiting the places where our food comes from, whether it’s a heritage breed turkey farm in New Jersey or an oyster farm in Montauk. And while people these days are placing a lot of emphasis on organic FOOD, many of us don’t think twice about our libations. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that wine can seem a bit intimidating in the first place – then you start swirling words around like organic and biodynamic, and it seems more complicated than using a fancy corkscrew.
But the good news is that there are plenty of small growers and winemakers out there dedicated to making beautiful wines in a sustainable way. Perhaps the most interesting thing to note is that you don’t necessarily need to see an organic seal of approval for wine to actually be organic. Many family and small-scale winemakers have been using organic practices for decades, maybe even centuries, and aren’t interested in paying the premium price for the organic label. The best rule of thumb is to trust your wine shop and just ask.
Seems like a little bit more work to out these wines, right? So why bother? Well, consider this: large-scale wine makers are in the business of consistency. Stabilizers, sulfites, and chemicals are added to the wines to ensure that each vintage tastes the same. In addition, grapes are not an easy crop to grow. Many large wine-makers use fertilizers and pesticides that I wouldn’t want in my food, so I certainly don’t need it in my wine.
This past winter, my family and I did a tour of small-vineyard and organic wineries in Sonoma County, California. We hired a chauffeur to take us around from vineyard to vineyard – which I would 100 percent recommend. No one has to worry about being the designated driver, AND the chauffeur will know more than you could ever imagine about the regions, the vineyards, and even the wines. (Not to mention, they’ll give you a complimentary bottle of champagne to enjoy as you gaze at out the window at the rolling hills).
Because the vineyards we visited were so small – we’re talking a production of less than 5,000 cases a year—the winemakers were often right there in the tasting rooms. As a result, we were able to have a deeper connection with and understanding of the wine because we met its maker. It’s easy to appreciate every sip when you understand the craft, the artistry, and the labor that goes into each barrel. I’ll never look at a bottle of wine the same way again, and I’ll cherish the memories I have with my family on that beautiful day in December.
SONOMA COUNTY SMALL-VINEYARD SUGGESTIONS:
Quivira (Dry Creek Valley) – This wine is absolutely delicious. It’s organic and biodynamic, and even has garden plots where local chefs can farm produce for their restaurants. The vineyard is gorgeous with a comfortable tasting room. $5 waived with the purchase of a bottle.
Stryker (Alexander Valley) - My favorite bottle was the Malbec; they also had delicious Zinfandels, which is what the Dry Creek Valley is renowned for.
Porter Creek (Russian River Valley) – This region is known for their pinot noirs, and Porter Creek makes some of the best. They are not available in stores, but you can order online and through their wine club.
Hawley (Healdsburg) – Hawley is a father/son operation with a vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley and a tasting room in downtown Healdsburg. They take their organic wines very seriously, and even employ the use of hawks for pest control through the art of falconry.
Thanks Shea! Great information and I liked your means of transport! All the best to Hungry in Brooklyn, and “Cheers!” to another great season!
For more great tips in the kitchen and ideas for preparing delicious meals using local, organic, and sustainable ingredients, please visit Hungry in Brooklyn.
Experiment #2 – 1L Tetra Pak (a.k.a. An oversized juice box)
Wines Tasted: 2008 Yellow + Blue Torrontes (white) and the 2007 Yellow & Blue Malbec (red).
Price Paid: $12.50 for each wine
This is my second experiment with trying wines in alternative packaging. Let me start off by saying that if there’s a method of packaging wine that is better for our planet, I’m all for it. I’m sure that all of us would agree that the greenest possible packaging methods should be used. However, I’m still searching for answers to whether or not the wine industry feels that alternative packaging, such as the “bag-in-box” system and/or the “Tetra Pak” system, makes better sense over glass bottles. If it does, then why are so few wineries willing to adopt and promote these more eco-friendly packaging options? If these alternative packaging methods are in fact greener and cheaper for wineries to use over glass bottles, shouldn’t there be more Box Wines and/or Tetra Pak wines on the shelf? My guess is that there are other factors coming into play – maybe impact on taste and freshness of the product? Let’s face it, business is business and most wineries aren’t going to make the leap to this type of packaging without knowing that there is a value proposition as well.
I digress and will continue with my experiment:
On the hunt for “Green” Wines
I took a stroll down the aisle of my local wine store and picked up two Tetra Paks from Yellow + Blue. The white wine was a 2008 Torrontes and the red wine was a 2007 Malbec. Both of these wines were from Argentina, and both wines noted on the eco-friendly container that they were made with organically grown grapes.
So how did they taste?
Well, they weren’t bad, but they weren’t very good either. For all that was said about the packaging being so much cheaper so that “better juice” could go inside, I found both of the Yellow + Blue Wines to be ok at best. The Torrontes white wine was the better of the two wines. It possessed some of the characteristics that I’ve tasted in comparatively priced bottled Torrontes, but this 2008 Yellow+Blue was definitely outmatched by bottled competitors such as Lo Tengo and Alamos. It was very light and kind of watered down. I give the 2008 Yellow + Blue Torrontes a 2 Star rating based on taste alone.
As far as the 2007 Malbec, well let’s just say that it didn’t stack up to some of the bottled Malbecs that I’ve tasted in this same price range this year. In my opinion, there are a lot more bottled Malbecs worth trying over this juice box Malbec in the same price range. I give the 2007 Yellow + Blue Malbec a 2 Star rating based on taste alone as well.
Did these wines stay fresher in a juice box than a bottle?
In my experiment, the Malbec was just about undrinkable on day #2 (it was not pretty) and the Torrontes did manage to hold what it had to offer for about three days. That’s pretty comparable to a leftover bottle of white wine.
So What’s the Verdict?
At the end of the day and this discussion, isn’t wine meant to be drunk? If the wine inside the bag or the adult sized juice box doesn’t taste as good as a comparable priced bottled wine, then that’s where I have to draw the line. I want to be as green as the next guy, but I really want to enjoy what I’m drinking even more! I respect what the folks at Yellow + Blue Wines stand for – “Wines for a Better Planet”, but the wine has to be better in order for me to buy it again. Unfortunately, these two particular wines are outmatched by competing bottled wines in the same price range, and the fact that they didn’t stay fresher any longer than a bottled wine didn’t do much to persuade me to change either.
Below is the link to Yellow+ Blue Wines and another site dedicated to promoting eco-friendly products:
I was beginning to think that the folks at Cono Sur could do no wrong. Earlier this year, I raved about how good their Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling white wines tasted. After having terrific experiences with two white wines from Cono Sur, I was eager to try their red wine offerings to see if they would be just as good. Unfortunately, I do not have the same praise to give for my first reviewed red wine from Cono Sur. The 2007 Cono Sur Cabernet Sauvignon / Carmenere blend consists of 60% Cab and 40% Carmenere, and is made from certified organically grown grapes.
Overall, the 2007 Cono Sur Cab / Carmenere was disappointing. This wine tasted very “green” to me. What I mean by tasting “green” is that the red grapes used to make this wine tasted as if they were picked and crushed way too early in the season. It also had a smoky tobacco taste that I didn’t particularly care for, much like some South African red wines. Finally, this wine was rather boring to me. The blend offered my taste buds very little excitement.
This red wine is not awful, but it just seemed as though the winemakers at Cono Sur were too eager to pick the grapes, get the wine made, and on the shelves. A little patience and some crafting, similar to their Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling, may have produced another hit from this Chilean Winery.
WineLife365 Rating: 2-Star