It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to think a bit harder about the chemicals we are putting into our soils and rivers – it’s going to come back and bite us on the bum for sure!
So in the spirit of Organics Day, here are a couple of words you might see on wine labels along with their meanings.
Organic – this means no man-made chemicals, sprays, fertilizers, pesticides – nothing that’s not naturally-occurring may be used at any stage.
It takes a long time for your soils to be certified as organic (up to 7 years) and a lot of people farm organically but choose not to certify their wines as such, just in case disaster strikes one year and spraying becomes essential.
Biodynamic – for a lot of people, this has connotations of naked moonlight dances, chanting through goat horns and practicing voodoo on the land. Biodynamics is a system of farming which tries to bring balance back to the soil.
Yes, certain things are done at certain times of the month and yes, you do have to bury the odd cow horn filled with cow dung (I kid you not) but here’s the reality – once your vineyards are in balance, your costs to farm them are less than half your non-biodynamic neighbours. And that’s got to be good.
Here’s a couple of wines you can look out for on International Organics Day.
Earthbound Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 R54 from TOPS at Spar
There are 4 wines in this funkily-packaged range, all from Darling, all certified organic, all extremely tasty.
Samuel Viljoen has been making wine in this area under the Tukulu label for many years and the newly-named range is not only organic, but also Fairtrade-accredited with a portion of the profits going to a workers trust.
The Cabernet is a juicy red wine with lots of black berries and cherries. Soft and supple, it’s great with a braai.
Waterkloof Seriously Cool Chenin Blanc 2014 R95 cellar door.
This is the maiden release and the second in the Seriously Cool range from Helderberg winery, Waterkloof.
They are biodynamic farmers and as you drive up the winding road to the cellar, you will pass armies of ducks eating snails in the vineyards, the odd horse ploughing the fields and some sheep keeping the grass down.
The wine itself is unwooded and comes from 30 year old, dry-farmed bushvines producing intense and pure Chenin flavours of tropical fruits & crunchy yellow apples.
La Motte Pierneef Shiraz/Viognier 2011 R211 cellar door
The grapes for this wine come from 3 different regions, 2 of which (and the bulk of the wine) are farmed organically.
Adding in 10% of a white grape, Viognier, is something frequently done in the Rhône Valley in France and it’s copied to excellent effect here as well. Perfumed and aromatic with flowers, black berries, some licorice and chocolate – it’s a special treat wine deserving of a great steak.
Avondale Cyclus 2012 R225 cellar door
Driving the bioLogic bus in SA are Avondale Wines.
What’s biologic? A system of biodynamic and organic farming which works together to produce the healthiest soils around, leading to the healthiest fruit.
Johnathan Grieve is passionate about his vineyards and their balance and this passion is reflected in the wine. This is a blend of Viognier, Chardonnay, Roussanne, Chenin and Semillon, all swirling harmoniously together, underpinned by the softest of soft oak.
It’s a wine for serious enjoyment with good friends and fine food.
Watch this video where Cathy talks about organic Pinotage (SA's homegrown grape variety).