Not all organic wines will tell you on label

  • Naturally good: Veramont winery in Chile

    Naturally good: Veramont winery in Chile

It is heartening to see interest growing in how we treat precious land and how we farm.

To some, however, having organic on the label still portrays a feeling of “kinky”; that the product belongs on “a higher-priced, special organic space on the shelf”.

This presents a quandary for some producers. For instance, during a meeting with one of the Santa Margherita family, we learnt they have always farmed their land organically, but were hesitant to add the label for the above reasons.

Several thousand vintners and growers in California have attended workshops on the greening of their state and are now using very nature-friendly practices — but not as a marketing tool.

Meanwhile, Veramonte in Chile is now in the midst of a relabelling programme, although on a visit as far back as 2010 we were shown vineyards that were being farmed organically.

Although none of the Veramonte labels that we presently have state that the wines are organic, let me quote from their website:

“All of our estates adhere to organic practices that ensure the best conditions for developing our vines and achieving sustainable vineyards over time. Vigorous, balanced soils grow quality grapes that express their terroir’s maximum potential. Our organic vineyard practices include:

1. Making and using quality compost based on the organic remains obtained during harvest;

2. applying compost throughout the vineyards and boosting soil biodiversity;

3. cover cropping between vineyard rows in order to improve soil structure, reduce erosion and add nutrients;

4. conserving biological corridors to preserve biodiversity and ensure a self-sufficient ecosystem;

5. incorporating sheep, which help to cut grass, aerate the soil and minimise compaction. They also serve as a natural fertiliser.”

Our top-selling wine from this winery is their vibrant and aromatic Casablanca Valley 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, with citrus aromas of lime and tangerine, blended with subtle floral notes. Smooth and fresh, this sauvignon blanc has great mouthfeel and a long finish. Grapes are harvested at night in order to maintain fresh and bright acidity. The fruit goes straight to the press, where the juice sits for 24 hours. Then, it is fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks, ensuring multi-layers of aromas and flavours. $16.75

We have the Veramonte Reserve Central Valley 2015 Valley Pinot Noir that is fermented in small open tanks with 100 per cent native yeasts, preserving the natural aromas and flavours of the vineyards. Native yeasts are different from vineyard to vineyard and give that “terroir” or unique sense of place. Yeasts, that originated hundreds of millions of years ago, have so far had about 1,500 species identified and they can certainly impart different characteristics to the wine. This pinot noir’s expressive aromas of raspberries, red cherries and cranberry reflect the true personality of these coastal vineyards. A delicate wine with a fresh, silky mouthfeel. The seamless balance of acidity and tannins results in a vibrant and complex pinot noir. $18.50.

Veramonte produces a higher-level range of wines called Ritual and we stock their Ritual Casablanca Valley 2014 Pinot Noir that rated 93/100 with James Suckling, who wrote: “Crushed ripe strawberries with blackberries. Some mineral undertones too. Full body, firm tannins and a fresh and racy finish. Shows some granite and slate as well.”

Wilfred Wong of says: “A sly and tricky pinot noir, the 2014 Ritual took me on a wild and crazy joyride and sent me into a place of heavenly delights. Yes, this is the way to go! Light red, garnet colour; active, almost wild red fruit aroma, attractive and pure, too much fun for the nose; medium-bodied, texture on the palate; dry, medium acidity, good balance; bright red fruit flavours, with mouthwatering mineral and savoury notes.” I think of the time that my wife caught an enormous salmon in a raging Chilean river and how perfectly this wine would have accompanied it. $20.65. (Through February, this wine is on sale in stores and online for $16.50).

And we offer, for the red-blend-trend wine lovers, the Veramonte 2015 Red Blend, which is a combination of varieties from different appellations. Merlot from their cool climate Casablanca estate that adds bright notes of cherry and raspberry; cabernet sauvignon and syrah from their Apalta estate to bring hints of fig, richness and structure and finally, carmenere and cabernet franc from Marchigüe to complete the blend with roundness, earthiness and a touch of spice. Native yeast fermentation gives this wine uniqueness and multilayers of aromas and flavours. $17.90.

As I think of our beautiful planet I repeat once again the wise American Indian proverb: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit

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Published Jan 19, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 18, 2018 at 10:46 pm)

Not all organic wines will tell you on label

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