With so many eco-friendly options out there, you'd better believe there are wines you can drink that are better for the environment. As if we all needed another reason to raise a glass for a toast! Skip down to the list if you are headed to the store (you can also buy online) or read through this column to get the backstory on the wines listed and the "natural wine" movement.
"Natural Wine" is a term that can be hard to define. It means a myriad of things to different people. One definition of natural wine is that it is simply "pure" and "kind to the planet." Other terms associated with the topic include: Minimal Intervention, Terroir, Biodynamic and organic.
For mass production of wine, consumers, retailers and distributors want to know that the wine will be consistent, bottle after bottle, year after year. That kind of homogeny just isn't natural. These mass producers rely on chemicals, sugar and lots of unnatural things to strip wine of its character. They might also rely on pesticides and other growing practices that we don't think are cool. You will soon also discover that even some small-lot wine might be made in plastic, bringing up BPA concerns.
So here's to drinking natural wine! Below is a carefully crafted conscious wine list for your enjoyment (please enjoy responsibly; a designated driver is only ever a call away).
Larmandier-Bernier "Longitude" Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut 1er Cru -- NV
Grape variety: chardonnay
An earthy apple flavor, this one is sensational pre- or post-dinner.
Muscadet de Sevre et Maine "Clos de Briords", Domaine de la Pepiere -- 2013
Grape variety: melon de bourgogne
Loire Valley, France
Mineral-driven and austere, this wine is begging to be sipped with oysters! (Personal favorite!)
Donkey and Goat, Grenache Blanc -- 2011
Grape variety: grenache blanc
El Dorado, California
This one has a dry finish and is stellar with fish
La Clarine Farm, Jambalaia Blanc -- 2013
Grape variety: viognier, marsanne, petit manseng, fiano and arneis
Sierra Foothills, California
Don't let the pungent bouquet fool you; this wine is tasty! Complex and unique, it goes with pretty much anything or sips well on its own.
Matthiasson Rose -- 2013
Grape variety: grenache, syrah, mourvedre and counoise
Delicious with a burger! Need I say more?
Chateauneuf-du-Pape, VV, Eric Texier -- 2010
Grape variety: grenache mourvedre
Rhone Valley, France
Great with steak and chocolate (I tested it), this Matthiasson is a much-admired natural producer.
AmByth Estate "Baily Vineyard" Paso Robles -- 2011
Grape variety: zinfandel
San Luis Obispo, California
"Lively" and anything but ordinary, this wine is so unique it stands on its own, but I decided I would like to serve mine with humanely raised skirt steak and chimichurri.
You can also call or visit your local wine store and ask if they carry wines from any of these importers/distributors: Louis Dressner, Jenny & Francois Selections, Kermit Lynch.