It all started with a bottle There are certain wineries you make pilgrimages to. Vallana is not one of them. Not unless your name is Peter Yi. For Peter, and for the rest of the…
Green Wines: The expression causes as much confusion as it does arguments. Not too long ago a green wine would mean a wine that was too young to drink, or possessing vegetal characteristics. Nowadays, people think of green wine the same way they think of green food or green products; basically products that don’t hurt the earth, and at best, improve it. But as we all know, that’s a pretty vague concept and everyone seems to have their own specific idea about the best way to go green.
So how is a consumer supposed to navigate through the murky waters of these so called green wines?
Let’s simplify it, at least when it comes to green wines. There are four categories that fit the green wines bill: organic, sustainable, biodynamic, and natural. We’ve come up with some handy definitions here, but would like to put a big disclaimer on all of them: No label, no matter how cool it sounds or how healthy it claims the product to be, has any bearing on taste! Some of our favorite winemakers eschew categories because they think they are silly. Why, after all, should they bother to categorize their wine when they are simply doing what their parents, grandparents and great grandparents did before them? And, just because a wine is labeled organic doesn’t mean it will taste organic—whatever that means—and there are certainly hundreds of them that taste just awful. Bad wine is bad wine period.
That said, in our experience winemakers who are practicing very specific techniques, such as biodynamics, tend to make exceptional wines that are often found at our dinner table. The bio-d wines of Nicolas Joly, Frank Cornelissen and Sara Perez offer unparalleled wine drinking experiences. The same goes for the awkwardly dubbed “Natural Wine” movement. Thierry Puzelat, Axel Prufer, Olivier Cousin and Noëlla Morantin—to name a few—make some of the most vibrant and interesting wines we have tasted.
Regardless of what anyone says about either of these groups’ techniques, or attitudes, the wines do enough of the talking for themselves. Sure, some hate them or think they are flawed, but they have a devoted and growing fan base. Take a look at a hip Brooklyn restaurant’s wine list, or research what’s going on in the Paris wine bar scene, and you’ll find these wines are becoming the de rigueur drink for the hip 20-40 year old crowd—not because they are green wines, but because they are tasty wines.
The upshot is that “green wines”, like “green anything”, have to be researched before consuming. A simple conversation with a knowledgeable wine merchant or a quick web search should get the ball rolling in the right direction. Then you have to do what you would do with any wine—swirl, sip and discover. In the end, a label only makes for good reading, but the joy of wine is in the sensory, not the intellectual, experience.