The Buying Guide: Top Sustainable Wine Picks

By / Wine + Drinks / May 11th, 2022 / 1

Excerpt from The Buying Guide originally appearing in the Fall 2021 print issue of Quench Magazine. Our tasters are Tony Aspler (TA), Gurvinder Bhatia (GB), Michelle Bouffard (MB), Michaela Morris (MM), Tim Pawsey (TP), Christopher Sealy (CS) and Donatella Dicca (DD).

TOP SUSTAINABLE WINE PICKS:

Sustainability refers to social, economic and environmental practises. It is important to understand that it is a process and journey rather than a finite destination. No one is perfect and we make no claims as to the degree to which the practises of these producers align with varying global standards, guidelines and certifications. But, the wines selected for this category are from producers who appear engaged in sustainable practices and, in the opinion of the reviewers, deserve recognition. Of course, they also taste great. 

Viña Chocalan Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, 2020, Maipo Valley Chile ($16)

Green pepper and sweet pea offset tropical passion fruit with some wet stone lurking in the background. This refreshing and zippy little number is straightforward but with ample personality and flavour to satisfy die-hard Sauvignon Blanc fans. Definitely
a ‘stellar value’ contender. Chocalan was one of the first companies to gain Wine of Chile’s certification for sustainability through reducing energy and water, recycling dry goods, using lightweight bottles made primarily from recycled glass and contracting local workers and suppliers to support the surrounding community. (MM)


Muré Sylvaner Alsace AOC ‘Originel’, 2018, Alsace France ($19)

Dry and rich yet balanced by crisp acidity and minerality. Generous notes of yellow plum, honey, red apple and red currants. So much character and made for the table. A natural with quiche Lorraine and washed rind cheeses. (MB)


Parés Baltà Brut Cava, n/v, Cataluña Spain ($20)

Third generation family owned Parés Baltà has been farming organically for 40 years and Demeter certified for biodynamic viticulture since 2012. The vineyards are a model of biodiversity and irrigation is strictly avoided even though it is permitted by DO regulations. As for the Cava, it could easily be my house sparkling. Subtle hints of toast, mocha and nougat mingle with lemon and almond. Light and airy with effortless, creamy bubbles, this is simply a joy to drink. (MM)

Filipa Pato & William Wouters Bical-Arinto Vinho Branco DOC ‘D.N.M.C.’, 2019, Bairrada Portugal ($32)

The D.N.M.C “Dinâmica” is a blend of 80% Bical and 20% Arinto harvested from a selection of vineyards throughout the region. The wine has a fresh, linear backbone of acidity, fleshed out with pear, spice, fresh herbs, and a juicy salinity. Immense drinkability and a great match for shellfish, sushi and salads. Pato/Wouters follow biodynamic practices and only work with the indigenous grapes of Bairrada. (DD)

Filipa Pato & William Wouters Baga Vinho Tinto DOC ‘D.N.M.C’, 2019, Bairrada Portugal ($32)

The red companion to the D.N.M.C white, the wine is 100% Baga from different vineyard sites throughout the region, blended together for complexity, and highlights the drinkability, fruit driven character and juicy tannins that Baga can display, but often does not particularly from the hands of less attentive wine growers. Really fresh, vibrant and inviting, with loads of crunchy red fruit, spice and herbs, firm but soft-ish tannins and lingering finish. Give it a little air when you first open the bottle (ie decant) just to allow the wine to lose some of the reductive character which is common for Baga when not aged in oak. (DD)

Meinklang Graupert Pinot Gris, 2019, Burgenland Austria ($35)

A little hazy in the glass with a pretty salmon core and a bit of sediment. Beautiful nose with bitter aromas of orange and pink grapefruit peel mingling with delicate balsamic notes. Dry and savoury with a medium body and firm chalky tannins. Quenches the thirst and truly shines with root vegetable dishes. I enjoyed it with Yottam Otolenghi’s roasted baby carrots with harissa recipe and it was divine. (MB)


La Cuadrilla Ballard Canyon AVA
‘Stolpman Vineyards’, 2019, Santa Barbara California USA ($40)

La Cuadrilla is overseen by the Stolpman vineyard manager Ruben Solorzano who employs his workers year-round for job stability. Each is given a plot to cultivate so they can hone their farming skills and profits from the wine are divided among the vineyard crew. Built on a backbone of Syrah with Grenache and Sangiovese, the 2019 bursts with mint and dark bramble fruit. Smooth and curvaceous with plush tannins giving a bit of grip on the backend. This pops fresh plum. (MM)

Il Palazzone Rosso del Palazzone ‘Lot 21’, n/v, Tuscany Italy ($40)

Declassified Brunello, Lot 21 is based on Sangiovese from 2019 with support from 2018 and 2020. It captures the freshness of pure crunchy summer berries with forest earth-iness framed by mellowed, approachable tannins. Kudos to this winery for switching to lightweight bottles, renouncing single use plastic and polystyrene, using recycled packaging, recovering rainwater and stopping this wine with a recyclable sugar-cane cork. (MM)

Feudo Montoni Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC ‘Lagnusa’, 2018, Sicily Italy ($42)

Owner Fabio Sireci calls Feudo Montoni “an island within an island” because it is located at elevation in the centre of Sicily. This characterization describes not just the winery’s remote location, but the isolation of its vineyards due to the massive fields of durum wheat that have surrounded Montoni for the past several centuries. The winery farms organically and organics (organic in Italian is biologico and bios means life) is a philosophy

that Sireci believes extends beyond agriculture and to the people of the region, giving them the possibility to work and providing them with a sense of purpose and pride. The Nero d’Avola vines in the ‘Lagnusa’ vineyard are an average of 35 year old and have been grafted from the ‘Vrucara’ vineyard which consists of century old pre-phylloxera vines. By utilizing this method, Montoni is able to maintain the unique character of the estate. The wine is perfumed and elegant with loads of cherry, blackberry and plum, spice, mint, mineral and a long, bright, lasting finish. (GB)

Dr. Bürklin-Wolf Riesling Ruppertsberger ‘Gaisböhl’ G.C., 2016, Pfalz Germany ($63)

One of Germany’s first wineries to convert to biodynamics – all 85 hectares. They made mistakes but stuck with it and helped others convert too. An estate monopoly, the Grand Cru Gaisböhl is intense and focused with spice, preserved lemon and mineral-like stony aromas. Dry and racy, it expands across the palate with textural, mouth filling precision and lingers with salted peach. Thrilling and age worthy! (MM)


Bollinger Special Cuvée Brut Champagne AOC, n/v, Champagne France ($90)

This Pinot Noir-led Champagne is rich and toasty offering appetizing brioche, pie crust and baked apple nuances. A commanding yet elegant Champagne with layers and depth brought to the fore by fine, persistent bubbles. Bollinger was first Champagne house to receive both the Haute Valeur Environnementale certification in 2012 and the Sustainable Viticulture in Champagne certification in 2014 reducing their carbon footprint through waste management and switching from fuel to electric. (MM)

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Looking at the small things that make life great and the people who create them.

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