Four Organic Sparkling Wines for Earth Day Weekend

Terra Savia's Blanc de Blancs is just one of the many sparkling wines from organic grapes on the market today. (Courtesy photo)
Terra Savia's Blanc de Blancs is just one of the many sparkling wines from organic grapes on the market today. (Courtesy photo)

The weather was odd this Earth Day 2010, with strong showers  and wind alternating with patches of sun. It’s like Mother Nature is bi-polar, or she’s trying to show off all of her stuff in one day.

One of the best ways to show your love for the planet and your body is by drinking wine made from organically grown grapes. These wines used to be hard to find, but these days with increased awareness about the dangers that pesticides can pose to the earth, farm-workers and end consumers, there’s lots of choice. One of the best places to find international organic wines online remains The Organic Wine Company and Whole Foods Markets around the country also have a good selection. Read up on all sorts of organic wines at Organic Wine Review.com.

I especially like sparkling wines made from organic grapes. My favorite sparkling wines have a sheer and elegant quality to them and this seems to be magnified in sparkling wines and champagnes made from organic grapes.

Plus I find that winemakers who produce an organic sparkling wines – one of the hardest styles to make – share this reverence their vineyards and nurturing them so they yield the best clusters of grapes. On a recent trip to Spain, winemaker Ton Mata of Cavas Recaredo told me that he tested out growing without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, his vineyards let him know that this was what they needed. Now their production of 300,000 bottles of long aged cavas called gran reservas are all made with organically grown grapes. I found the same passion for the land talking to Jim Milone of Terra Savia in Mendocino and Eileen Crane of Domaine Carneros in Napa.

Some people feel guilty about drinking wine that has had to be shipped for thousands of miles, because of the fossil fuel burned up along the journey. So in the interest of being completely eco-friendly this Earth Day, I’m offering a list of some great green wines from around the world.

Terra Savia Blanc de Blancs – I stumbled across the wine at Andy’s Market in Sebastopol one day and bought it because I was thrilled to find an organic grape sparkling wine for under $25. My friends and I loved its bright green apple notes and clean flavors balanced with a hint of toastiness.

La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco
La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco

La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene For five generations the Pizzolato family has been growing grapes in the northern Italian town of Treviso. In 1991, their Treviso vineyards were certified organic. They now produce a range of organic proseccos including from the Treviso and Valdobbiadene DOCs as well as a sparkling chardonnay and a raboso, a red grape that produces sprightly, fruity wines. The prosecco typically sells for around $15-16.

Domaine Carneros Brut Rose
Domaine Carneros Brut Rose

Domaine Carneros Brut Rosé Cuveé de la Pompadour – Since 2005, all the wines from this Taittinger-owned house in Napa have been made from organically grown grapes; the estate’s vineyards were certified organic in 2008.  Winemaker and CEO Eileen Crane says the vines just seem more vigorous, it’s better for the workers and the wines taste even better. The Brut Rosé is completely dry, but has wonderful strawberry and plum flavors thanks to the predominance of pinot noir.  It’s $25 to $30 a bottle.

Cavas Recaredo Brut Nature 2006
Cavas Recaredo Brut Nature 2006

Cavas Recaredo Brut Nature Cava 2006There are so many little details that go into producing Cavas Recaredo, which are poured at the best restaurants in the world including Arzak and The French Laundry in Yountville. All the cavas are aged long on the yeast to produce a complex flavors, they’re aged on the cork, disgorged by hand and are finished with no sugar in the dosage, making them brut nature in style. About $35.

Exploring Cava Country in Spain

The Consell Regulador del Cava oversees all aspects of production for the region's sparkling wines.
The Consell Regulador del Cava oversees all aspects of production for the region's sparkling wines.

Many people visit Barcelona, the city that’s the capitol of Catalan culture here in Northern Spain, but it seems that relatively few ever make it to the wine country just an hour outside the city. I’ve barely been here for 24 hours in Vilafranca del Penedes and have learned all kinds of things already. Burbujes – which means bubbles – is my favorite new word in Spanish. And the Casa Torner I Guell in central Vilafranca is a very beautiful and modern hotel in the Mercer Group that just needs guests to fill it up.

Vilafranca is a town that’s in the cava region, but it’s actually the center of still wine production as well. The architecture here is a mix of modern and gothic and the town’s streets are lined with interesting little shops and of course wine bars.

Yesterday afternoon, I met with Maria Del Mar Torres who runs the Institut del Cava and Luis Vallespin of the Consell Regulador de Cava. The Institut is a membership organization made up of 70 cava producers while the Consell is a government organization that oversees cava production, registering vineyards, controlling yields, and setting standards for alcohol levels and labeling.

I’ll be meeting winemakers and learning the stories behind a dozen wineries, as well as tasting lots of different styles of cava and Catalan food, so stay tuned.