Green wine

Five organic Marlborough wineries recently got together to form a group with the catchy name of Mana (Marlborough Natural Winegrowers). They are Fromm (tastings), Huia (tastings), Hans Herzog (tastings), Te Whare Ra (TWR) (tastings) and Seresin (tastings). I tasted 53 of their wines. Collectively they are a cut or two above the Marlborough average. Does that mean that using organic winemaking and grape-growing methods produces higher quality wine? Possibly. But it might also indicate that these five wine producers are more quality-conscious than most. It’s hard to prove one way or the other.

Non-organic viticulture often involves the use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides to remove any threat to the grapevines and its crop. Organic producers believe it’s ultimately better for the health of the grapevine to let the plant develop its own defences. A stronger vine means healthier and more flavoursome grapes and ultimately a better wine, goes the argument. My observation of conventionally-grown and organically-grown grapes seems to support that claim.

There is no doubt that organic viticulture is healthier for the land than conventional viticulture. That alone is enough to make me want to go green.

Seresin Riesling, Marlborough 2006 – $24

Seresin was the first Marlborough winery to gain official organic status. Like others in the Mana group they grow grapes under the even more disciplined biodynamic regime. It is surely no coincidence that Seresin also makes terrific wines. This is a great Riesling in prime drinking condition. It has impressively intense citrus and floral flavours with a hint of toastiness – delicious! This is a bone-dry wine that will make just about any seafood dish to taste even better. It’s a bargain at this price. – view on

Te Whare Ra Gewürztraminer 2010 – $30

Te Whare Ra is one of Marlborough’s oldest wineries. As grapevines age they tend to produce more intensely flavoured grapes. Flavoursome grapes mean flavoursome wines. The owners of this winery are very serious about making organic wines. They are just as serious about making very good wines. This super-classy Gewürztraminer is a powerful wine that delivers its delicious Turkish delight flavours with impressive subtlety. It’s a sophisticated rather than an in-your-face Gewürztraminer that makes me want to reach for another glass. – view on

First published in KiaOra Magazine – Jul 2011.

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