Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good morning:

I am a fact checker at Rodale and would like to ask some information about organic wines. One of our writers believes that organic wines are always made from younger grapes. He also believes that due to the low sulfite content of organic wines, it is best to drink them while they are younger.
I am hoping you can confirm that this is the case. Also, we plan to mention your website as a resource in our publication Best Life magazine in February 2008.

Many thanks
Kate K, PA
Hi Kate,

If you mean by younger grapes those coming from younger vines the answer is certainly no as there is just as much incentive to get grapes from old vines in organic viticulture as in conventional. Older vines tend to extract more elements from the earth since they have had more time to grow roots in deeper soil.
If you mean less mature grapes (green) the answer is still no as every vintner tries for the same reason to obtain the best possible extraction and maturity in the grapes to have the best fruit to work with (higher sugar content and other components). Naturally there is a limit where you risk bringing in the cellar grapes that may be over mature and maybe more prone to oxidation. For that reason it is conceivable that organic vintners would want to avoid that risk but it is certainly more a personal choice than an industry-wide practice.

Regarding the low sulfite content: in most cases (the wines made from organically grown grapes) the limit of 100ppm is more than enough to protect wines adequately and I can attest that our own wines have lasted up to 10 to 20 years without suffering with the modest amount of SO2 they contain.
In the case of organic wines (by the legal definition of having no added sulfites) then the really low if not inexistent amount of sulfites puts them definitely at risk if you keep them for a certain amount of time. While we cannot draw a general conclusion due to the amount of factors involved it is probably safer to drink them as soon as you can. However to give you a relatively counter example, the no added sulfites wines that we have selected (a tough job!) which are both 2004 vintages are perfectly drinkable even though one of them is a white! So you see…

We’ll be delighted to be mentioned in your publication. We are modest but believe that our website is certainly the best resource to obtain good and well priced organically grown wines.

At your service

Dr Mic

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