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3 Wines Going From Organic To Natural

A new month and a new theme, I will write about 3 Wines Going From Organic To Natural in the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group. The theme this month is Organic & Natural Wine – What’s it all about? In this context, there are, in reality, three categories of wine, namely organic, biodynamic, or natural. Then, of course, there are also conventional wines and later buzz terms such as regenerative farming. Anyway, this month the writers in the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group will explore more about organic, biodynamic, and natural winemaking.

Find wines on to taste and learn more about organic, biodynamic, and natural wines with us during this month.

March with the #ItalianFWT – Twitter chat

On Saturday, 5 March, at 11 am ET / 17.00 CEST the Italian Food, Wine, and Travel group will explore Organic & Natural Wine – What’s it all about? in the #ItalianFWT chat on Twitter.

All those of you who are interested in wine, food, and travel in relation to organic and natural wines are very welcome to participate in the chat on Saturday. It is always great to have new fellow Italian wine and food enthusiasts join and add new perspectives to the discussion. Join us on Twitter on Saturday, 5 March, by typing in the hashtag #ItalianFWT in the search field on Twitter.

The viéw from Buondonno winery

About being Organic, Natural, or perhaps Regenerative

A while ago, I wrote an article about an event called Vini Audaci, Audacious wines, and discussed the term “audacious” in relation to natural wine and its various definitions. I looked at the definitions made by Raw Wine, Vin Natur, and how the French authorities in 2020 recognized wines produced with “vin méthode nature”. Read more in my article When Audacious Wines Takes You On A Captivating Tasting Journey.

Vini Veri is another association or consortium as they call themselves, in Italy that I did not mention in my previous article. Vini Veri is a parallel association to Vin Natur in Italy for producers that make essentially low intervention wines. In their mission statement, or “rule” in their words, they also stress that being organic or non-organic is not the main issue. Rather, the goal is to work in a way that allows for the production of wine without “accelerations” and stabilization measures, recuperating a maximal balance between man and the cycles of nature. In other words, they want to respect nature – the vineyard – by not using any synthetic fertilizers and then not adding anything in the cellar during the winemaking process.

During the #ItalianFWT Twitter chat on March 5th, a discussion got started about the benefits of regenerative agriculture and how it is an improvement taking viticulture and farming one step further in the development. It was argued by some that it should become the new certification worldwide. I am not against regenerative agriculture, it includes measures that are all very important for safeguarding our environment. But is it new science? Not really, some methods have been used by farmers since far in the past others have been developed since the early or mid-20th century.

It was Robert Rodale who coined the term regenerative agriculture “to describe a holistic approach to farming that encourages continuous innovation and improvement of environmental, social, and economic measures.” It is more or less the same as biodynamic agriculture’s view on farming from a holistic approach. Alright, it is true that Rudolf Steiner used a more spiritual approach but, still, the ideas are very intermingled.

The Rodale Institute continues to say on its webpage that “Regenerative prioritizes soil health while simultaneously encompassing high standards for animal welfare and worker fairness. The idea is to create farm systems that work in harmony with nature to improve quality of life for every creature involved.”

At the website of the Biodynamic Association in the US they state the following:

“Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.”

In biodynamics, they apply the same measures as in the regenerative agriculture movement, such as no-till/minimum tillage techniques, the use of cover crops, crop rotations, compost, and animal manures, the inoculation of soils with composts or compost extracts to restore soil microbial activity, and managed grazing. If you disregard the spiritual side, biodynamics also focuses on ethics while I have not seen that included in the mission statement of regenerative agriculture.

Roberto Di Filippo with his geese in the vineyard.

Another point is that regenerative organic agriculture seems to be covering mainly farming in general and viticulture, but I haven’t seen much about the processes in the wine cellar. Even if it is true that biodynamics has the spiritual part, at least it is more encompassing for wine producers. Should we otherwise have one certification for the agricultural side, another for the winemaking in the cellar, a third for something else?

All these measures are very important for protecting our environment, I do not question any of that, my point was rather that it is not feasible to continue coming up with new certifications that are very alike and thinking to go global with all of them. Farmers and. in this case especially wine producers, already have considerable costs and bureaucratic work with the existing organic, biodynamic, and sustainability certifications. Arguing then which continent is less complicated in its bureaucracy will not lead anywhere either.

In my opinion, cooperation in favor of finding a solution with one or two overarching global certifications would be best for our environment. This will be a tough solution to pull through though.

One can always hope…

3 Low Intervention Wines

Chianti Classico 2019 – Buondonno Winery, Castellina in Chianti

Gabriele Buondonno moved with his father and family from Naples to Tuscany in the late 1980s to start to live a calmer life. Buondonno was organic from the start in 1989, when the organic regulation and certification was still in its cradle, as he says. The farm is situated in the locality Casavecchia alla Piazza in Castellina in Chianti and comprises 24 hectares of which 11 are vineyard plots and the rest olive groves, forest, and pasture land.

Gabriele Buondonno believed in being organic and respecting nature right from the start, he does wild fermentation with indigenous yeast, is constantly experimenting with maceration on skins in amphoras, etc. The soil in half of the vine rows is covered with grass consistently while they harrow the soil close to the vines in the other rows. Buondonno is organically certified and applies several farming procedures to protect the environment and be sustainable.

I tasted his Chianti Classico 2019 a couple of months ago which indeed is a “classic” Chianti Classico. 2019 was generally a good year in Tuscany and in the Chianti Classico area even though it started out with a cold May where the vines remained a bit behind in their growth cycle. They did catch up some through the quite regular summer that was not too warm but, still, the harvest was for many later than usual.

Buondonno’s 2019 is a Chianti Classico wine with lovely acidity, vibrant red fruit, good structure, all in all, a linear wine. This 2019 is one of those direct, fruit-forward wines that are a joy to sip on with some nice ham or salami or with a plate of pasta with ragú sauce.

Domu Battistina – Iseo 2020 – Fratelli Poddi, Sardinia

The wine I will talk about here is still a project, they have not really launched their winemaking activity entirely yet. They are two brothers – Fratelli Poddi – who are located by the Omodeo lake between Nuoro and Oristano on Sardinia. I really do not know that much about them yet, I tasted their two wines at a wine bar of a friend of mine, Vineria Sonora. Anyway, the Fratelli Poddi treat their vines almost with silk gloves. They do not do any treatments, they do not weed and they use horses in the vineyard for light tilling. In the cellar, they only do wild fermentation with natural yeast, no temperature control, and they mature the juice in amphorae.

The Vermentino wine Iseo 2020 that I tasted a couple of weeks ago is really a wine that captures your attention straight away. It has done a 4-month maceration on the skins before maturing in amphora for a year. It has a beautifully intense yellow, almost mustard yellow, color and it is slightly cloudy. On the nose, it is fresh, citrusy, with notes of shrub herbs in true Mediterranean style, baking soda, a hint of almond, and much more. It is a complex white wine with a body that is rich also on the palate.

Viticoltori Lenza, Salerno, Campania

Viticoltori Lenza is a venture of Valentino Lenza together with his son Guido Lenza and his wife Ida in Pontecagnano Faiano close to Salerno. The land has been in the Lenza family since 1881 when the great grandfather of Valentino bought it. In the early 20th century, they set up the Tenuta Valentinia on the grounds of the estate of the Neapolitan noble family Doria. The main activity of the Lenza family is horse breeding, to be more precise the breeding of trotting horses. They are the owners of the hippodrome Valentinia where they manage the racing activities.

The Lenza family has been vine growers since the 1880s but it was only in 2009 that Guido decided to start producing wine in a more focused way again. They grow mainly Aglianico but also Piedirosso, Fiano, Greco, Falanghina, and Coda di Volpe. The vineyards are in organic conversion since 2.5 years and they will be organically certified from 2023.

Guido and Ida are already now producing low intervention wines. They produce a Piedirosso sparkling wine – Gabry, named after their daughter – with the ancestral method and without added sulfites that is a joy to drink. It is very liked by the natural wine movement. However, in my opinion, their Greco and Falanghina wine Ida and their Aglianico wine Massaro are the true gems. Of course, also their Valentinia wine which is 100% Aglianico matured for 18 months in large oak barrels is a beautiful wine. In Massaro, you feel the beauty of the fruit-forward Aglianico though. Then, if we look at Ida 2020 that I have tasted on a couple of occasions, it is a white wine with a personality, it has notes of herbs, white flowers, yellow fruit, freshness, minerality, structure. An all-over good white wine.

This article turned out very long, there were a lot of things to discuss. See the contributions of the other writers below.

Nicole at Somm’s Table will share “Cavalleri Franciacorta with Braised Collard Greens and Polenta”

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Discovering Ziobaffa Wines”.

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share “With an Ethos of Quality and Sustainability: ZIOBAFFA Pinot Grigio Terre Siciliane IGT + Braised Celery Over Farro Couscous

Susannah at Avvinare will share “Tuscany’s Querciabella Leads the Way on Vegan Wines

Gwendolyn at Wine Predator will share “La Maliosa Saturnia Biodynamic Natural Wine: Red, White Native Grapes Paired with Pizza #ItalianFWT

Jennifer at Vino Travels will share “The Sustainability Behind Sicily’s Principi di Butera

Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will share “3 Wines Going From Organic To Natural”

Katarina Andersson

Seen often at wine events streaming live, Katarina is a wine writer, wine educator, social media strategist, and translator. She is the founder of WinesOfItaly LiveStream. She has been a guest at The Cellar, hosted by Richard Glover, at Wine Two Five, a podcast hosted by Stephanie Davis and Valerie Caruso, and at the Twitter chat #WiningHourChat founded by Li Valentine.

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