The United Slurps of America. Also, Some Organic Wines Still Suck

Vinted on March 9, 2010 binned in organic wine, Penns Woods, pennsylvania, wine review

Actually, let’s take those in reverse order.

Here’s the deal – I have a love/hate affair with organic wines.  I love the fact that they’re organic and environmentally-friendly; I hate many of the wines because they’re not any good.

And I’m convinced that enough wine consumers have reached a similar conclusion that they actually avoid buying wines labeled as Organic, which is why many good wines that could be labeled as officially organic don’t bother to mention this on their labels (see Alder Yarrow’s take on the subject of Organic wine labeling).

It’s not all organic wines that suck, and there are many excellent, premium wines that farm organically or biodynamically.  But the extreme cases have a loooooong way to go before they will appeal to the average consumer.

Take Stellar Organics for example.  Amazing things they’re doing for the environment and their community.  BUT… they make a line of ‘No Sulfites Added’ wines (essentially, the only sulfites in the wines are those produced naturally in the winemaking process), and the samples I tried of those wines just aren’t very good.  To the mini-review tape:…

08 Stellar Organics No Added Sulfites Merlot (S. Africa): Makes a very strong argument for the addition of at least *some* sulfites. $12 C-

08 Stellar Organics No Added Sulfites Chenin Blanc / Sauvignon Blanc (S. Africa): Environment-friendly, but not taste-friendly. $12 C-

Fortunately, the global Interwebs are a place where the ultra-niche can have its day in the sun, and there exists an entertaining video blog that reviews primarily organic wines, and they say that the other Non-No-Sulfites-Added products by Stellar are actually pretty darn good. OrganicWineReview.com is the name and it’s a fun wine blog to check out.

Another quick tidbit for the day: I took part (virtually) in the first United Slurps Of America tasting, which is being run by the excellent Swirl Smell Slurp blog – it’s their attempt to taste wine from all fifty U.S. states, sharing tasting notes with a blogger based in the same state; a novel and fun take on U.S. wines (though when they hit NY, CA, OR, and WA they might have some trouble trying to narrow the field).  Since I’m based in PA, they asked me to share tasting notes on the Penns Woods wines that they were sampling to kick off the event.

I was stoked to take part, especially because I was given my own way-cool black-&-white He Said / She Said style icon.  You can keep an eye on on their wine jaunt progress through the U.S. at http://swirlsmellslurp.com/2010/03/united-slurps-of-america/.

Cheers!

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    Comments

  • @OWineReview


    Joe:

    Thanks for the post. Given some of Stellar's fare are among the better we've tasted at Organic Wine Review (http://www.organicwinereview.com/), have to agree with your premise that finding certified organic (no addiotinal sulfites added) that compare to other wines in terms of taste, complexity, interest, etc. is a tall and perhaps impossible order.

    We will review all comers that are made with Organic Grapes, Biodynamic as well as Certified Organic Wine. With the significant shift to organic and sustainable farming of grapes, we are seeing many examples of the former that are noteworthy and very drinkable!

    Cheers,
    Brent (OWR's "Avg Wine Guy")

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks – keep turning us onto the decent ones!

  • 1WineDude


    An interesting and timely bit of news related (sort of) to this – Lifehacker today has an excellent overview of what Organic labeling means: http://lifehacker.com/5488799/the-common-sense-gu

  • Hardy


    As someone that now produces, peddles, and meddles in organic / biodynamic wine– It is just like anything else, there is great stuff and a sea of plonk.

    Organic is on the website, but not our canteens

    I'm all for labeling things as they are- organic, bio-d, liquid rat poison, etc… but I think there is a part of the wine world that wants to be seen just as great wine (in spite of being organic / bio-d).

    • 1WineDude


      Good point (of course) – there's also the decision of just wanting to be known as a really good wine, with the methods of production being just an aspect of the total picture (and probably some "not wanting to jump on the bandwagon" action as well :-).

  • Sunny


    Clearly it has become hip to be green. Like any other fad in the industry the big boxes of the world have charged full steam-ahead onto the organic bandwagon in an effort to take advantage of market fever. But just like any other wines, quality, consistency, production methods, location and winemaking style all play a role. Consumers should no more be lulled into thinking it has to be good because it is organic than they should accept that it is worth the money because it is from France (see red bicyclette). At the end of the day the selective consumer who puts effort into finding artisan wines that focus on quality and not fads will indeed find wonderful organic options.

    • 1WineDude


      There is no magic bullet!

  • Peter Price


    There will always be leaders and there will always be critics. Leaders lead for many reasons few of which are for the right reasons and believe that the followers are the ones making them the leaders. As in organic anything when corporations get behind a concept it generally gets corrupted and political. The leaders take all the heat and the critics love the sexy, well marketed products from the giants for all the wrong reasons.
    NOTE that the 100% organic wine industry is still grow at over 30% / year while all due to consumers that love the wines or drink them for the lack of allergens. Bio-dynamic and "Made with organic grapes" is NOT organic. Do the research and then support what you will..

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks – I think there's a LOT of confusion out there for consumers when it comes to that labeling.

  • Matthew Cain


    Joe – Looks like we're neighbors. I'd be happy to have you taste my wines.

    Hardy- Cool canteens.

    • 1WineDude


      Right on – I remember chatting with you about our proximity some time ago (might have been at the first Wine Bloggers Conf.?). Send me an email and we can talk about tasting that vino. Cheers!

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