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essence vintners

Going L

ike it or not, we’re all organic. We are organisms, we have organs, we could be described as organic compounds

and we certainly turn into lovely nutritious organic matter when we die. So there it is, organic, at the very core of our being, the thing that stops us being confused with stones and double glazing. Very few of us ever ponder the makeup of our bodies, all the nitrogen, hydrogen, carbon and oxygen sloshing around inside us keeping us upright and getting us out of bed in the morning. Why is it then, that there is so much interest in the organic credentials of the food and drink we consume? I appreciate I am playing fast and loose with the concept of organic food production by relating it to our physiological state, but I was just trying to give an idea of the variety of interpretations the word organic can have. In the shop there is rarely a day that passes

without a customer asking what organic wines we have, where our organic section is and, sometimes, why it isn’t bigger. These questions are more than questions; sometimes they can feel like accusations and no answer is good enough – we don’t really believe in organic wines. We might as well poke the customer in the eye since we are



Alex Roberts of Park Vintners discusses organic wines and recommends, of course, some delicious examples to try.

effectively belittling their ethical lifestyle choices; yes, you’re right we could have a bigger range– here you’re almost saying that whilst you know your range isn’t up to much, you don’t much care either; yes, you’re right we would like to have a bigger range, but sometimes find the organic wines we taste don’t quite match up in quality to the non- organically produced wines from the same regions and varieties. We really want to have the best wines on the shelves at the best prices, organic or not... at which point you discover you are now alone in the shop with no extra money in the till! To clarify, we have no problem with

organic and fully support the ideals of organic (not using artificial fertilisers, pesticides in the vineyard etc), biodynamic (similar to organic but using special biodynamic preparations at particular times linked to the lunar calendar, often involving cow horns and hairy big toes) and natural (again, like organic but continuing the non-intervention, no artificial additive strategy in the winemaking as well as the grape growing, definitely involving hairy big toes, usually six on each foot), but we don’t make such practices the sole reason for us buying the wines we put on the shelf. There is a good argument that wines made more ‘naturally’ have less harmful chemicals

in them, have less sulphites particularly (which seems to concern an increasing number of people) and thus there is a perception that the wines are better for you, less likely to give you a headache and therefore a ‘very good thing’! As with a lot of good arguments there is a good counter argument. This accentuates the fact that you are still drinking a product containing anywhere between 10-15 per cent alcohol, that alcohol is a poison and the more of this poison you ingest the less your body enjoys it, hence headache. Possibly not the chemicals. So do buy organic, but not necessarily for

that reason alone. Maybe buy organic because the bulk wines shipped across to the UK in massive containers and then bottled here are often laced with far more additives to stabilise the wine on its long journey. Perhaps buy organic because a number of cheaper products on the supermarket shelf are wines of not such great quality fiddled around with to make them taste fine for a low price point. Whatever you do though, always buy a wine that is going to excite you and that you will savour for a long time. So with this in mind, here are a couple of

wines that we think absolutely fit the excitement and lengthy savouring criteria:

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