02 Jun Do Organic Wines Taste Better?
I get asked this question all the time
Organic farming has a lower environmental impact and produces healthier wines for the consumers, but are these wines better, worse or equal o conventional ones?
Visits to many organic farms have convinced me that the grapes in these farms are different from those in conventional farms.
I find motherhood statements such as this wine is organic so it must be better are completely pointless and incorrect. The flavour in wine originates from 1000’s of factors, especially in today’s world of modern wine making.
The “terroir” – the environment that the grape is cultivated in is the single most important element in dictating the end product. The “Terroir” is a French word that encompasses, soil type, weather, amount of sunlight. It is this that explains why the same grape variety will result in wines that are completely different depending where in the world the vineyards are located. Nothing can make up for poor terroir.
So where does organic farming fit into this??
What we really should be looking at is if we compare grapes grown under the same conditions and made with the same wine making skills do organic grapes have the potential to make better wines.
The Organic Difference
I have observed 2 main difference when vineyards are converted away from modern farming techniques :-
- Organic grapes over time develop thicker skins.
The aroma compounds are found mostly in the skin cells of grapes and these compounds are directly responsible for the primary aroma that give each grape variety it’s fruity identity. During the fermentation process these are aromas are released into the wine and it is the aromatics in the finished product that distinguishes a great wine from an ordinary one. This being the case a thicker skin should provide more aromatic flavours per grape.
- Modern farming theory is that you analysis your soil profile and then replace any chemical deficiencies that the land may have with the correct chemicals. This chemical boosting of the soil will give you greater crops yields from each acre. This increase in yield will result in more “juice” per acre. Sounds good in theory, however, this increased yield comes at a cost. Artificially boosting the chemical profile of the soil without doing anything else eventually drains all the goodness out of the soil and the artificially fattened grapes have less flavour per litre of juice produced.
Without this chemical boosting the quality of the grape crop produced from an organic vineyard, could initially be less constant or even lower quality than conventional farming, but the organically grown grapes should improve with each crop as the ecosystem evolves, thereby producing higher quality juice.
A study by the University of California looked to understand if there was any difference with quality of the finished wines.
“This study seeks to understand the link between ecocertification and product quality. We use data from three leading wine-rating publications (the Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine Spectator) to assess quality for 74,148 wines produced in California between 1998 and 2009. Our results indicate that ecocertification is associated with a statistically significant increase in wine quality rating. Being ecocertified increases the scaled score of the wine by 4.1 points on average. (JEL Classifications: L15, L66, Q13, Q21, Q56)” *
So are organic wines better???
I believe that organic wines have the potential to be better than conventional wines. But do not just believe me, you be the judge and try for yourself!!!
* Magali A. Delmas a , Olivier Gergaud b and Jinghui Lim c – “Does Organic Wine Taste Better? An Analysis of Experts’ Ratings” Journal of Wine Economics