Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The All in One Handy Dandy Guide to Certification: Organic and Biodynamic Wine Standards - Covering All 5 Types of Wines

Wine certification can be numbingly complicated - or simple. Two years ago I prepared a simple chart - at least I hope it's simple - delineating the various types.

Here it is for your reading enjoyment. 

Download a printable copy here: Organic and Biodynamic Wine Certification Types.

Armed with this info, you can decide whether you want to find any wine that is sourced from organic or Biodynamic vines, or if you have additional requirements.

For instance, if you are looking for a wine with no additives (other than sulfites up to 100 ppm) and on native yeasts only, you'd want to find "Biodynamic Wine." A few great producers - and there are only a few - are Porter Creek (estate wines only), Qupé (Sawyer Lindquist vineyard wines only) and Maysara (everything is estate only).

And please note, while there is an organic standard for "Ingredients: Organic Grapes" wine, there is no equivalent in the Biodynamic universe.

The Demeter standards are crop/product specific - so they have a specific standard for wine. The NOP standards were created for both food and wine (which is how we wound up as the only country in the world with the dorky conflation of no added sulfite as a standard in our Organic Wine standard).

While most people really don't need to know about certification, it can be a powerful tool for consumers to find what they are looking for.

Note that Biodynamic wines have two standards. The Made with Biodynamic Grapes standard allows organic additives and cellar manipulations just like the Made with Organic Grapes standard.

Many winemakers are unaware of the "Ingredients; Organic Grapes" standard. And many more who meet that standard don't put it on the bottle label. But that's another story.

Another brouhaha results from consumers' attention being focused on wine additives, rather than vineyard chemicals. Thanks to Alice Feiring, people are sure that additives are the issue. They are part of the story, but the much bigger story is the toxicity of the vineyard chemicals. Also you would have to test wine - an expensive proposition - to find out what additives are in it and if they are unsafe. You can find out what vineyard chemicals were used - in California - using publicly available data (and testing if you want to spend $100 a bottle).

But any wine made from organic or BD vines is likely to be a good choice (leaving supermarket wines aside). I personally tend to steer clear of mass produced no added sulfite wines, but enjoy other wines that are made with low to no sulfites as well as wines that can't meet the 100 ppm sulfite restriction (like Ridge). IMHO, winemakers should feel free to add the sulfite they want to to preserve their wine, according to their own analysis. However I mostly drink wines that aren't even labeled "Ingredients: Organic Grapes" but are from certified vines. Most of the best producers aren't labeling. (Kudos to the ones who are and may their numbers expand).

I always say organically or Biodynamically grown fine wines are the fastest oath to the best wines, because so many of the producers (not all but most - I won't list the exceptions here) are above average or our finest wines.

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