Italy’s World Leading Organic Wines
Posted on 26 October 2020
What started out as a curiosity for “hippies and hobbyists” has now become THE target for forward-thinking wineries, and Italy is a country at the forefront of organic winemaking in the world.
Italian organic boom
Organic wine in Italy is booming, with a 57% growth between 2013 and 2018 alone [Sources include Sinab, Eurostat and Fibl data agencies]. By 2018, about one-sixth of Italian vineyard space, was either certified organic, in conversion or organically cultivated. That in itself made up just over a quarter of all organic vineyard space in the world. That really is impressive.
But what does any of that mean for you all out there drinking these wines? We live in a world where we’re all asking more questions about the food on our plates and the drinks in our glass. We want free-range, not GM! It makes perfect sense that eating organic fruit and vegetables and drinking organic wines is better for you and the environment. But with wine, as opposed to a lot of other products, it’s arguably a tougher road to travel for the grape growers that’s not always obvious to see.
What makes a wine “Organic”?
This might sound like an obvious question. Organic carrots, organic tomatoes, organic wine. It’s all the same is it not?
Well to an extent, yes it is. In Italy (and most of Europe) the EU has set down a series of regulations to follow based on banning the use of agrochemicals in the vineyards to manage pests and diseases.
Since the 1920s “conventional farming” has involved the use of agrochemicals to ensure that crops produced every year to feed an exploding world population. Unfortunately, by the 1980s, that meant monocultures and dead soils all over the world. So the organic movement is first and foremost about rejecting the use of synthetic agrochemicals; harmful to the land, those who live there, and those who drink the wine. Drinking organic wine is helping the land and the people who work there, as well as making a healthier choice for you and whoever you share your bottles with.
Where it gets a bit complicated
It’s not as simple, however, to say to everyone that we all need to go organic overnight. Some wine regions, especially those by the coast or in humid climates, struggle more than others with a fungal attack. It’s hard for them to go organic and still have a business.
There are still sulfites used in organic viticulture as a natural hygiene tool as well as the use of copper sulfite in the vineyards as the only protection available against mildew by the rules. All those “extras” allowed, and the quantity used, in the vineyard and cellar are limited in quantity by the rules, but it is still up to the winemaker and vineyard manager how and when to use them.
How do we see it on the label?
This isn’t always easy. There are also the joys of the terms certified, non-certified, and in conversion. EU certification takes 3 years to attain and there’s a lot of cost and paperwork involved. Those who have been through that process are known as certified organic and have the EU organic wine logo on the bottle. Those that are going through that process, but not completed it are said to be in organic conversion. Those that practice organic viticulture but don’t want the hassle or cost of being certified are known as non-certified organic. What is it with the wine world about making things complicated for us all, eh?
Help is at hand
The best way to make better choices when buying your wine is to know as much as you can about who made it and who you buy it off. We know buying organic wine is good, but we think buying from great producers who have a strong organic ethos is even better, whether certified or not. Luckily, at Libiamo, we’ve got some brilliant (and certified) organic wines and producers we’re incredibly proud to stock and support. Perfect wines for happy and healthy dinner tables!
Libiamo’s Top Organic Wines
Ronchi di Cialla, Friuli Venezia Giulia
A historical Friulian family wine estate. All work in the vineyard is made without the use of synthetic products and with minimal allowable treatments. The winemaking itself is carried out naturally with native yeast and spontaneous fermentation.
The company philosophy has always been to work only with indigenous varieties, such as Ribolla, Refosco, Schioppettino, Verduzzo and Picolit that in the Cru' Cialla find the perfect environment. After 40 years Ronchi di Cialla has a well-established reputation on the market as a producer of some of the finest age-worthy wines of Friuli.
Make sure you try Ronchi Di Cialla Schioppettino 2014:
Beautiful ruby red coloured wine, with an elegant bouquet on the nose with fresh red fruits and spicy pepper notes. Excellent balance and weight in the mouth and a lovely long flavourful finish. Another great pairing with white or red meat, but simply perfect for the local Friulian barley minestrone.
93/100 from Vinous Antonio Galloni
4.1/5 from Vivino
Cesani makes some of the best wines of all the San Gimignano area. These days the wine is made with the assistance of oenologist Paolo Caciorgna, one of Italy’s finest winemakers. Cesani’s vineyards are located in the sub-area of Pancole, which characteristically yields the most intensely flavorful Vernaccia di San Gimignano of all.
Make sure you try Cesani, Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2019:
Pale yellow in colour, this wine is fruity and fresh on the nose with fresh green apple and lemon citrus. The freshness continues to shine through on the palate. This dry white wine has a beautiful aftertaste of almonds to follow the fresh fruit. Perfect as an aperitif wine, it goes well also with fish and white meat.
3.6/5 from Vivino
Located in the heart of Montepulciano, Salcheto is dedicated to Sangiovese using the Prugnolo Gentile clone, known as the soul of Vino Nobile. It is the first estate in the whole of Italy to be fully self-sustainable and their energy independent cellars are a model of innovation and efficiency. In 2018 they became one of the first rounds of Italian wineries to be certified by Equalitas, a pioneering sustainability organization in the world of wine. All of Salcheto’s wines are made without the use of sulphites and fermented using indigenous yeasts.
Make sure you try Salcheto, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:
Brick red in colour, the wine shows delicious dried and ripe dark cherries on the nose, with a touch of prune and a ripe, sweet fruit core. There is definite complexity with savoury aromas of earth, cedar, spices and a warming meatiness and leather. The palate mirrors this but shows great balances with the fruit, and the prunes and warm earth are particularly prominent. The ripe tannins provide great structure, but are softly textured and are in perfect balance with the bright acidity. The finish is lovely and long and leaves you gasping for another sip. Perfect with ragù of wild boar, grilled Chianina steak, pork sausages, salumi, and grilled or roasted lamb. Try it with tagliatelle with black truffles and olive oil.
4.1/5 from Vivino
Libiamo’s Organic Wine Tasting Cases
Case of Organic Italian Whites
A collection of 6 organically farmed still, dry whites from some of Italy’s (and Europe’s) most famous wine styles and regions:
- Grillo-Cattarrato Giato Bianco 2019 by Centopassi, Sicily
- Sancerre Silex 2018 by Francois Le Saint, Loire Valley, France
- Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2018 by Cesani, Tuscany
- Rotgipfler 2018 by Johanneshof Reinisch, Thermen, Austria
- Orvieto Classico “Tragugnano” 2018 by Sergio Mottura, Lazio
- Obvius Bianco 2018 by Salcheto, Tuscany