Is green this season’s new black? Well, Nedbank and Wine Magazine certainly seem to think so and their inaugural Green Wine Awards lunch at Cape Town’s Mount Nelson hotel last week proved that interest in things organic increases despite the recession.
Nedbank has been supporting a myriad of green projects over the last 6 years donating an incredible R135 million to a range of projects and schemes through their Green Trust. One of those organisations is the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (www.bwi.co.za) which aims at preserving natural habitat and maintaining sustainable winemaking practices and their members and champions are doing an amazing job of protecting fynbos, rejuvenating their soils and conserving the land for future generations. Look out for their logo on their members’ wines if you want to do your bit and buy BWI.
But back to the Awards – there were 51 wines from 19 different producers, some producers 100% organic, some organic in conversion. The highest scoring wine rating was 4 stars and only 2 wines reached that level which I think suggests that the wines submitted are still slightly more interested in being organic than tasty. But this is still a relatively new sector of the market and given that it takes so long to convert your vineyards to organic grape growing, I am sure we will see more contenders and a quality step up in the next year or so.
The two four-star wines were the Lazanou Chenin Blanc and the Laibach Ladybird Red with the Lazanou just ahead on points. Sadly I missed the awards lunch due to a prior engagement, but Chef Caro, who’s always keen on fresh, clean flavours whether in food or wine, dived right in there to sample Fish Carpaccio with an oyster and a fruity salsa, served with the Lazanou and Lamb Loin with Potato Gratin and a ‘Tuscan beany thing’ – absolute perfection with the Ladybird.
The other ‘half’ of the awards was for the winery showing the Best Environmental Practices. For this award, the wineries had to complete lengthy paperwork and really put every aspect of their winemaking and grape-growing practices under the microscope. More wineries would have been welcomed in this category and I am reliably informed that it will be easier to submit entries in future. The worthy winner here was Oak Valley who have spent endless amounts of time ensuring that the wine farm of today can still be the top quality wine farm of tomorrow as well. And they make fantastic wines too so doubly worthy winners in my view.
So a new, and really rather exciting wine competition. Whether we believe that organic wines do us more good or whether we think they taste better than non-organic, it seems to be coming increasingly clear that unless we all change the way we look at agriculture and start to care more about the ‘how’s’ and ‘should we’s’ of producing our food and drink, then our children’s children may never know the full pleasure in saying ‘cheers.’ And that, in my view, would be a crying shame