A Baker’s Dozen of Earth Friendly Wines

Food & Drink

Though April is the month officially designated for earth awareness, you can drink wines produced with environmental awareness all year ‘round. Here are a few to try this month and beyond.

Avignonesi Desiderio Merlot Biologico 2018, Toscana IGT. A single-varietal wine from a top producer in Tuscany that will change your mind about Merlot (that is, if you ever strayed. And if you did, welcome back). The herbal expression hints of a savory garden-green leaf, without in-your-face pyrazines. Smooth, silky tannins accompany tart red fruits with Bing cherry in the lead. A satisfying and complete wine in a more modern style.

Balletto Pinot Gris 2021, Russian River Valley. Made from sustainably farmed grapes, this is a good entry into Pinot Gris from a solid producer, though not a typically earthy style. This had more of a Chardonnay profile with its yellow apple and pear fruit, and six months in neutral oak. Medium to full bodied, but not heavy. Attractive herbal quality, good with earthy foods such as wheat linguine with garlic and mushrooms.

Chateau Suau Bordeaux Blanc Sec 2020. Tropical fruits (citrus, peaches) abound in this Sauvignon Blanc-driven wine with 20% Sémillon. Has all the pungent markers of the variety, with a bit of green stem in the mix. Organic.

Domaine Roy + Fils Rosé of Pinot Noir, Quartz Acorn Vineyard 2020, Yamill-Carlton. This is a pretty salmon-colored wine that shows Oregon can compete in the popular rose category with great aplomb. Fruity nose (peach and strawberry) gives way to rhubarb and baked strawberry backed by a bit of mineral saline. Organic grapes.

Early Mountain Petit Manseng 2020, Virginia. A nicely textured, slightly honeyed wine that expresses tropical fruits—mango, peach and papaya—atop a rich and creamy palate, thanks to malolactic fermentation. This wine spent some time on the lees and was fermented in a variety of vessels—oak puncheon and foudre, concrete, and large Acacia. Turn to this when you can’t get your Burg fix. Cultivated in a low-intervention, bio-diverse block specifically designated for the variety.

Granbazan “Etiqueta Verde” Albarino Rias Biaxes DOC, 2021. This sustainably grown wine spent three months on lees, which contributes to its lemon creaminess and roundness in the mouth. The medium body is overlayed with a zesty twist, yellow and green apples, giving this a nice sense of richness along with the freshness. Old school label for a delicious wine that is classic, yet fun and fruity. Good show of tangy acid.

Grochau Cellars Etheric Skin Contact Pinot Gris 2019, Amity. Eleven days of skin contact yields a light-cranberry colored wine. The funky cheese-rind nose blows off, evolving to tart cherry, cranberry and raspberry. Bright, very tart, medium-bodied, unfined, unfiltered and fun. The advice on this wine is “chill AF” (yas!) Grapes sourced from organic and sustainably farmed vineyards across Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Lunaria “Pettirose” Cerasuolo d’Aburzzo DOC 2020, Montepulciano. Vivid cherry red in color and cherry all the way in the glass. A little Jolly Rancher character, but then evolving to a more savory note. Skins are left in contact with the must and indigenous yeasts for 10-15 days, then the wine is aged in oak and stainless steel for four months. Biodynamically produced. Good food wine.

Marabino Rosso di Contrada Biologico 2020, Noto. Red and black fruits shine in this Nero D’Avola. The smoothed-out tannins in a medium body gives this a modern fresh profile. Blood orange on the palate gives it a southern Italian twist. Fun, pleasant and not funky from a biodynamic estate in southeastern Sicily.

Paul Blanck “Classique” Riesling 2020, Alsace. Count this among the offerings that elevate Alsace as a producer of world-class dry Rieslings. Clean Granny Smith apple, a twist of lemon curd and white flowers are backed by a controlled streak of mineral for which the region is known. Organically produced.

RedThumb Tempranillo 2019, Navarra, D.O. (Spain). Strawberry and raspberry drive this fresh and snappy wine with an underline of spice. Modern style you can drink on its own or, as I did, with a “Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom” enchilada from Chuy’s in Austin. Made with organic grapes, native yeast, minimal interventions—it’s all on the label.

Rocim “Fresh from Amphora” 2020 Alentejo (Portugal). A blend of Moreto, Tinta Grossa, Trincadeira, this is a super fun, light-bodied wine (12% abv) with crunchy and juicy red fruits. It delivers a direct fruit hit—nothing muddled about this!—riding along a little saline/mineral backbone. Organically produced.

Vignobles Greffier Château Moulin De Launay, 2018, Entre-deux-Mers AOC. Sustainably produced white Bordeaux from the appellation between the two rivers. A Sémillon-driven (45%) blend, Sauvignon Blanc (20%) and 15% of each Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris, and the remainder Trebbiano, this had lime blossoms, fresh green apple and zesty citrus jumping out of the glass. At only 12.8% abv, you might be tempted to drink it all down in one sitting.

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