By The Glass
Select organic wines offer value and quality
WE'VE BEEN seeing more organic foods at grocery stores, but have you ever thought about what the term means and the benefits of consuming organic?
Organic food is grown without chemicals: no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides or herbicides. Eating organic food means you are not putting chemical residue in your body that may cause health problems, especially for infants and children.
While taste depends on many factors, surveys have shown that people notice significant improvement in flavor when comparing organic to non-organic foods. Environmentally, organic practices don't pollute the soil or groundwater. This affects not only humans, but thousands of different animals.
At Vintage Wine Cellar, we receive lots of requests for organic wine. While most wineries, especially good-quality ones, practice organic farming, few apply for certification because they would like to reserve the right to use chemicals in an emergency.
Coccinelles of Southern France is making certified organic wine. More importantly, they are making wine that is good whether organic or not. It is hard to find a good Cotes du Rhone for the following prices anymore -- most are $15 to $25 now.
Coccinelles Cotes du Rhone Rouge ($11.99): 40 percent grenache, 30 percent syrah, 30 percent mourverdre, cinsault and carignan. This wine is ruby red with garnet highlights. Aroma notes are of sweet spices; it is full in the mouth, with smooth tannins. Serve with grilled meats, small game birds, or mild cheeses.
Coccinelles Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($11.99): 60 percent grenache, 20 percent roussanne, 10 percent viognier. Pale in color with green nuances, this wine has a complex bouquet of delicate peach and white flower. Round and ample on the palate.
Coccinelles Cotes du Rhone Rosé ($11.99): 70 percent grenache, 20 percent syrah, 10 percent cinsault. Bright and attractive in color, it has a complex bouquet, rich in fragrances of fresh fruits and spring flowers. Well-balanced and fruity on the palate.
LOLONIS WINERY is at the forefront of organic farming in California, using dry framing methods with no pesticides or herbicides. Ladybugs, the winery symbol, control pests naturally. Lolonis has been practicing this type of farming for more than 40 years on its certified organic vineyards in Redwood Valley and Mendocino.
Beyond farming techniques, Lolonis just makes good wine, at prices that are a fraction of comparable-quality wines. The best compliment Lolonis receives is : "This tastes wonderful! It's grown organically? Even better."
Lolonis Lady Bug Red ($13.50): Deeply colored, softly textured and extremely fruity in flavor, tasting of blackberry and plum, with overtones of cocoa, pepper and oak. A blend of zinfandel, carignane, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.
2003 Lolonis Merlot ($14.99): Very soft and quite rich in style, with plum, blackberry and toasted oak flavors.
2004 Lolonis Zinfandel ($19.99): Mendocino zinfandel at its best. Velvety textured, rich in flavor, but not heavy -- you will want more than one glass. It is full-bodied and has zesty flavors of plum, black peppercorn and blackberry, with just the right splash of oak.
2003 Lolonis Cabernet Sauvignon ($19.99): A supple, very approachable cabernet, intense in character and long on the finish. It has appealing plum, blackberry and cedar flavors, and should be at its best over the next one to two years.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org