Win organic products | PS News

by John J. Williams

For a wine to be certified organic in Australia, the grapes must have been grown without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides. This eco-friendly way of producing grapes relies on the producers maintaining a natural balance in the vineyard for their vines to thrive.

The organic wine market is still a niche, but the industry is growing as more and more consumers take an interest in sustainability issues. Australian Organic Limited, the largest trade association representing organic producers, hosts annual awards to honor the wines and winemakers who drive growth in the market.Win organic products |  PS News

This year’s Australian Organic Wine Industry Awards evaluated a record 238 wines from 53 organic and biodynamic producers. They represented 75 varieties, with lesser-known white and red types outperforming. Entries came from 38 regions across Australia.

South Australia’s beacon shone brightly, with winemakers from four wine regions taking home top prizes and medals for Riesling, Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Grenache Blanc. The Wine of Show trophy went to an Adelaide Hills wine, Ngeringa 2019 Single Vineyard Iluma Syrah, who also took home the Red of Show award. Ngeringa also took gold medals for his 2019 Ngeringa Pinot Noir and 2018 Ngeringa Single Vineyard Summit Chardonnay.

The Barossa Valley is the guardian of flavorsome reds and some of the world’s oldest vines, but a young Grenache Blanc grown by Tscharke Wines made headlines when the 2020 Gnadenfrei White was renamed White of Show. The Tscharke family is a proud pioneer of the breed. “It’s a gem of a variety and thrives in dry conditions, which lends itself to growing under organic management,” says Damien Tscharke.

The diversity of Australian organic wines prompted the judges to create several new categories this year, including Best Newcomer, Best Left of Center Wine, Best Park Wine, and Best Chillable Red.

Best left of center. In Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, Minimum Wines won two new awards, the 2021 Hailstorm Special Pet Nat, a blend of Sangiovese and Chardonnay, which won Best Park Wine, and The Colossus of Harry, a 2020 Sauvignon Blanc that comes into contact with the skin. Minimum co-founder and chief winemaker Matt Purbrick loved the new categories and was delighted with the wins. “The Hailstorm was also the first Pet Nat we produced, so we are very proud to receive that validation,” he said. Only 150 dozen were bottled, and they sold out within a month.

The Best Newcomer award went to Margaret River producer McHenry Hohnen for his 2021 Apiary Block Chardonnay. The Best Chillable Red went to Orange producer See Saw for his 2021 Margin, a Pinot Noir/Gamay blend.

Below are some medal winners that I have had the pleasure of tasting. Bortoli’s 2020 Organic Shiraz Field Blend, discussed in this column in March, was also awarded a silver medal.

Mount Avoca Estate 2019 Organic Shiraz, $32: I’ve long admired the elegant cool climate red hues produced by Mount Avoca in the Pyrenees of Victoria, with blackberry, vanilla, cedar notes, velvety tannins, and a nice long finish. It won a silver medal at the Australian Organic Wine Industry Awards.

Brash Higgins 2019 SHZ Omensetter Vineyard Shiraz, $42: I first visited Brash Higgins shortly after owner Brad Hickey planted his vineyard in McLaren Vale. Seeing how far he’s come in the two decades since is a pleasure. This large, brooding Shiraz, generously flavored with plums, licorice, and savory herbs, won a bronze medal. Very smooth with a lovely, sweet earthiness.

Mount Horrocks 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, $60: This Clare Valley winery was certified organic in 2014; owner/winemaker Stephanie Toole has been unwavering in her commitment to sustainably managing her vines and soils. This silver medal winner comes from a low-yielding vineyard in a very low-yielding vintage. Powerful and concentrated, a little herbaceous with beautifully integrated oak and a long finish. Very stylish.

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