The Rise of Organic Wine In New Zealand
Organic wine is certainly one of the biggest trends of the past two decades, along with its cousins biodynamic, sustainable and natural wine. This is not just in North America, of course, but a worldwide trend, largely driven by consumers and the pioneers of these winegrowing techniques.
New Zealand is definitely on board. In a recent virtual seminar, discussion and tasting of organic New Zealand wines as part of Organic Wine Week, a panel including Jared White (from BioGro), Emma Jenkins MW, Anna Flowerday from Te Whare Ra, Huw Kinch from Pyramid Valley Vineyard and Nigel Greening from Felton Road winery.
It was an interesting presentation, in which I learned that New Zealand has seen a 33% increase in certified organic vineyards. Over 10% of New Zealand wineries have organic certification.
These are my notes of the 5 organic wines tasting during the virtual seminar. Three of the wines were from winemakers participating in the seminar.
2020 Te Whare Ra Single Vineyard Toru Field Blend, Marlborough
A lovely, aromatic wine that is a very floral and fruity blend of three (“toru”) grapes: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, and Pinot Gris. The grapes are co-fermented and the resulting wine is soft, but balanced, smooth and delicious, with pretty flowers and pear fruit.
2019 Pyramid Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
This small biodynamic winery makes a range of wines from different terroirs, although the winery location is in Waikari in North Canterbury. They are currently building a new winery. This Sauvignon Blanc is very fresh, with lots of tropical fruit as well as great citrussy acidity and a crisp finish.
2019 Milton Te Aria Chenin Blanc, Gisborne
You don’t hear a lot about New Zealand Chenin Blanc, but all true wine lovers know that it is one of the great grapes. This is a gorgeous, lightly golden colour, and has a complex, very appealing “wild ferment” nose that is spicy and mineral-laden. It also has a lot of body and is filled with pear and apple fruit. Love it.
2016 Dog Point Pinot Noir, Marlborough
This hand picked BioGro Pinot is very ripe, showing a lot of dried fruit character, including prunes and raisins, at least partly due to 5 years of age. At this point it is quite soft in acidity and round in texture.
2019 Felton Road Calvert Pinot Noir, Central Otago
This legendary biodynamic producer is best known for their single vineyard Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. This 2019 Calvert is showing as pleasantly herbal, alongside dark cherry fruit. It has great acidity giving it a freshness on the finish. Owner Nigel Greening mentioned that the small bottle sample (rebottled somehow) might be slightly oxidised, but it showed quite well.