The world of wine got aboard the ‘organic bus’ many years ago following its regulation in 1991 and this was not just neat marketing, there was a strong wave (now a tidal wave) of feeling that this was the correct way to grow vines. The aim was to produce wines in a more sympathetic way and in balance with nature and its natural soil enhancers, nutrients and means of controlling pests and diseases. Another key aim was to substantially reduce the need for sulphur as a preservative additive into wine, although a small amount of sulphur is naturally produced in the fermentation process.
The early adopters of organic production focussed on the natural local ecosystems and trying to avoid the unnecessary spraying of crops and vines with chemicals and at the same time moved away from chemical fertilisers. The reintroduction of natural manure as a soil supplement together with other organic soil enhancers was an easy and logical step. These changes of course didn’t address the issue of the natural pests and diseases that can alternatively be held at bay with pesticides and copper spraying, but at the expense of natural predators in the delicate ecosystem. If you exterminate one pest, another thrives in its place and the balance of nature is potentially thrown out of kilter.
The trend is unsatiable with reported organic wine sales moving from 349 million bottles in 2012 to a staggering 676 million in 2017 when as few as 572 vineyards were certified as fully organic. The number by 2021 had risen to nearly 6,000 vineyards who were certified or in the process of being certified as organic.
In the Languedoc, the ‘wine belly of France’ several Waud Wines producers were early adopters of good organic practices, some chose to have these registered and certified, whilst others just considered the practices to be good and wanted to convert to this more natural and sustainable practice in any event. Great examples of such good practice come in the form of the Guibert family and their fantastic Mas de Daumas Gassac estate of wines. The red wine of Daumas Gassac is famously referred to as the Lafite of the Languedoc and at Waud Wines we have listed these beautifully crafted red and white wines for many years.
Nearby in the Alpilles area nudging into Provence, the fabulous wines of Eloi Durrbach at Domaine de Trevallon are a great example of organic wine production (the wines were famously originally marketed as table wine as he refused to purely plant traditional grape varieties). Trevallon uses not just Syrah but also unusually Cabernet Sauvignon in its reds and a heady blend of Marsanne and Rousanne as in CNDP in its white wine. Interestingly the labels are unique to each vintage and were designed Rene, Eloi’s father who was an artist and close friend of Pablo Picasso.
Another great example of progressive good organic practice comes from Michel Gassier (pictured) and his stable of certified organic wines from Costieres de Nimes, an area we have visited many times sandwiched between the southern Rhone and Languedoc who’s typical styles are evident in the Gassier line up.
Latest estimates suggest that by 2022 there will be 1 billion bottles of organic wine consumed around the world each year.
90% of the world’s organic wines are produced within the EU, with Spain being particularly prevalent. Across the world it is estimated that as much as 24% of the total vineyards by number are switching to organic production.
If you are still not convinced that organic is best, the lack of sulphite in the wine is a major contributor to a reduced hangover!
Jeremy Waud, Managing Director