With tailgating, weekend entertaining, and backyard barbecues top of mind, a properly paired wine can take a meal from good to great, elevating the experience for guests.
Choosing a sustainable wine to serve, however, means even more: doing good for the planet. Sustainable wines tend to use less pesticides, recycle, and contribute to the environment. Finding these wines at local retailers, however, can be a bit of a challenge. We’ve assembled a partial list of some of our favorite wines and wineries using sustainable practices, with the hope that, as more consumers demand responsibility from brands, they’ll be encouraged to continue to commit to better practices, reduced pesticides, and increased biodiversity in their production methods.
Hailing from South Africa, Cape Classics, managing portfolio for DeMorgenzon, Jam Jar, and Indaba brands, as well as many others, not only utilizes sustainable wine practices within many of their wineries, partnering with farmers and growers who use environmental preservation and holistic farming methods, but also social responsibility through support of the Indaba Education Fund, created to help financially in need and academically deserving students pursue wine-related studies.
Historically recognized for outstanding quality, Tuscan winery Avignonesi has applied biodynamics to all of its vineyards since 2009. Avignonesi’s holistic farming system focuses on the well being and health of the soil, the integration of local flora, and biodiversity as a whole. These sustainable wines are the perfect complement to the organic steaks, lamb chops, and mushroom based dishes.
Avignonesi Grifi Toscana IGT 2011 (SRP $60) shows a bright, deep ruby red color, with aromas of juicy red berries, dark plums, and spice, with herbaceous notes of thyme, menthol, and earth. Pair with organic red meat or grilled portobello mushroom dishes for a vegan entree. This is seriously one of our favorite sustainable wines!
As many are aware, New Zealand has set the tone on an international basis, when it comes to best practices to encourage green wineries and sustainability in wine growing.
• Active monitoring of water use in the winery and educating employees on reduction
• Minimizing the use of CO2 and, where possible, replacing it with nitrogen in both the winery and bottling plant (reducing CO2 emissions)
• Recycling whenever possible (wineries like Nobilo have implemented a bottling facility with comprehensive recycling programs)
• Encourage raw material suppliers to align with each winery’s environmental goals
• Compost on site-food and other degradable materials
• Removal of the use of diatomaceous earth
• Commitment to reduction of carbon footprint through reduced electricity and paper use
• Reporting of greenhouse gas emissions
Nobilo Icon wines include a traditionally citrus and gooseberry forward Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a Reserve blend, but also a New Zealand Pinot Noir that makes for a stunning pairing for barbecued ribs, chicken on the grill, or an olive tapenade with grilled pita and eggplant. SRP is $19 and up.
Try their Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc Reserve (SRP $22) paired with grilled shrimp or fish. Featuring tropical fruit flavors like guava and pineapple, there’s a green grass note on the palate, signature to New Zealand sauv blancs, as well as white peach, citrus, and flinty minerality. Perfect for southern outdoor entertaining!
If France is calling, don’t miss Gascogny’s Tariquet Rosé d Pressé 2014 (SRP $12), bright, pomegranate red in color, with small, tart raspberries and citrus flower on the palate. This is a fresh and fruity, yet dry warm weather wine that will pair quite nicely with white meats or seafood. Made from a combination of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Tannat, Tariquet is rich, full-bodied, with a lingering, spicy finish.
The winery has adopted a number of environmental wine making best practices, such as organic manuring, using partially demineralized water with a lowered pH, reduced pesticide treatments, and waste water recapture.
Sulphites have been reduced to the strict minimum (per France’s wine making standards), with the vineyard using antioxidants like vitamin C as alternative preservation methods.
Another great French winery that’s not afraid to do it old school is Château Aney, in the Haut Médoc Bordeaux region. Previously in disrepair, Pierre Raimond rehabilitated the nearly century old vineyard during the 1970’s, replanting vineyards, repairing buildings, and slowly nurturing the vines back to health. His efforts paid off, as, although they still use many old techniques-hand picking the grapes, dry farming (no irrigation-just rainfall and run offs), their wine is one of the best traditional Bordeaux-style wines on the market.
Château Aney Haut Médoc 2011, (SRP $25+), made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot grapes, this Bordeaux style wine is a little tighter and lighter initially, but opens up to bright, juicy red fruits, medium tannins, black currants and spice. Perfect for a rotisserie turkey or smoked duck on the grill! Drink now through 2016.
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