The Wine Times
The Wine Times

A former sommelier’s opinions/rants about the LCBO’s new vintages releases

Don’t go buying organic wines expecting to impress your natural wine loving friends

Apr 13, 2019

Hey guys,

In an attempt to keep up with the times, the LCBO is featuring organic wines this Vintages release. So I went ahead and wrote them a letter to gently remind them that organic products are no longer “au courant” mostly bc it’s no longer 2004. Waiting on a response.

Then I thought about it (I’m not so good at thinking before I speak/write). Mayyyyyybe the LCBO is trying to trick consumers into confusing organic wine with natural wine (which is still all the rage). Buyer beware. They’re not the same.

Organic wines are pretty much like any other organic agricultural product (no pesti/herbicides, no/minimal sulfur etc). Natural wines are organic and then some. They’re essentially wines made the old timey way – with minimal human intervention. That means natural wines use organic grapes, ambient yeasts (no strain selection), minimal filtering/fining, etc. They are wines made without adding or removing anything, which means they are unstable and unpredictable…just like the so-called cool kids who looooveeee this shit (the natty wine movement is a reaction to the ultra modern, mega clean, arguably over-processed wines we’ve been drinking since the 80s or so).

So don’t go buying organic wines expecting to impress your natural wine loving friends (bring them kombucha mixed with gatorade…they’ll never know the difference).

Here are my picks (mostly white this time around…sorry red ppl):

Somewhere in, Luxembourg

Ok. Here is something I’ve never tried, Luxembourgian wine. Huh. I guess Luxembourgian is a word…was totally expecting the red squiggly line to show up under that. Anyway, I’m not gonna swear by this stuff, but did some research and the reviews are all quite positive (I suppose the expectations are low?). Being made from 100% Pinot Noir, this guy will be on the more aromatic/fuller end of the spectrum…at $19.95, I’m willing to roll the dice on this one.

Finger Lakes, NY

Spent a hot minute in the Finger Lakes district last summer. For those of you who live in Toronto and haven’t been, it’s so close and so good. If you’re not feeling up to paying $600/night to stay in a Lake Joe hovel, check out upstate NY…that is, if your Trump-boycotting morals will allow it. The setting is mega picturesque and the wines are super tasty. Obviously, Riesling is the go-to here. Much like ON Rieslings, the NY people make a lot of shitty off-dry, sweeter styles, but you’ll find more than a few gems in their sea of swill…like this guy. Dry, lean, aromatic, good acid, nice minerality…all the delicious things you look for in a Riesling. The LCBO says this is, “a rare treat in Ontario”…I’m over here like, whose fault is that? Rosé season is upon us-ish. Before you go spending your hard earned dollars on Southern French wines in an attempt to recreate your grossly misconceived ideals of Riviera life, try this local guy. Hidden Bench is fantastic and so is their rosé. Super dry, nice acidity, with all of the tasty berry/herb notes a girl could ask for.

Burgundy, France

Burgundian Chardonnay is some of the best shit on the planet. I haven’t had a drink in almost 100 days and Burgundian Chard is probs the first thing I’ll put in my mouth as soon as this bs sobriety stint comes to an end. Will it be this Burgundian Chard? Hell no (imma go big). BUT if you don’t want to squander your kid’s education fund on Chardonnay (no judgement here if you do), try this. The Roche de Bellene Vieilles Vignes is a great intro to the whites from this region, best known for bankrupting even the most fiscally responsible wine junkies.

Savoie, France

If you are trying to impress a wine nerd (as you should), show up with this. Wine nerds have historically been into anything from the Savoie region (probably bc it still seems “undiscovered” eventho it’s been there for a bazillion yrs). Altesse is the grape here (aka Roussette). V interesting varietal with a bunch of nut-driven notes (almond/hazelnut) and some great acidity – being alpine, that’s no surprise. If you’re looking to try something different but not altogether weird, do this.

Umbria, Italy

If the not-as-shitty-as-usual weather hasn’t got you craving lighter reds/whites, try this big, delicious thing. 

Rioja, Spain

Tempranillo Blanco was discovered in the 80s when regular Tempranillo (famous for making red Rioja) naturally mutated (plants do this…see Pinot Blanc, Grenache Blanc etc.). By the 2000s, the Spanish powers that be said it was cool to use Temp Blanco in the wines of Rioja. No one really agrees on what makes this grape distinctive…for me, it’s like Chard and Riesling made a wonky mutant baby. You don’t see a 100% Temp Blanco everyday…I reckon it’s worth a shot.