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Posts Tagged ‘biodynamic’

Château des Rontets Vineyard

Château des Rontets Vineyard

It was truly a pleasure to visit Claire and Fabio at Château des Rontets last October. The couple met as architects in Milan, Italy, and eventually relocated to France to take charge of Claire’s family estate in the town of Fuissé, Burgundy. Fabio and Claire don’t subscribe fully to all of the intricacies of the biodynamic philosophy, but they have adopted some biodynamic techniques such as following a lunar calendar for harvesting and other cellar jobs. All of the estate’s grapes are grown organically and carefully hand harvested. (more…)

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A Representative Selection of Our Top 10 for 2013

At the end of each year, staff members at all three of our shops – in Cambridge, the South End of Boston and in New York – fill out a staff survey. We reflect on what we have tasted over the course of the past year – moments where we were surprised (both pleasantly and unpleasantly), new and exciting food experiences, as well as the flavors we found ourselves returning to time and again. We pick our favorites and share memorable moments. Some tried-and-true items appear in our survey results year after year – other items are new and exciting finds from the current year – goodies in this instance that distinguished 2013 from all others. Here are our top ten picks culled from this year’s survey results! (more…)

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Nikolaihof Elderflower SyrupJust in time for the steamy weather – our shipment of Nikolaihof elderflower syrup has arrived from Austria. Many of you have seen this syrup on our shelves before and, I hope, have had a chance to try it. Nikolaihof makes stunning Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings but now is the time for a taste of their heavenly hollerblüten or elderflower syrup.

Nikolaihof, in the beautiful Wachau region along the Danube, is the oldest wine estate in Austria and is now run by the Saahs family. The earliest known reference to winemaking on the estate dates back to 470 AD, and the Saahs still use a wine cellar built by the Romans. The entire estate is run according to biodynamic principles. As a result, the Saahs plant and harvest according to the moon calendar and use only homeopathic treatments for the grapevines and other plants. (more…)

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Millesime BioDuring a short stint from January 23rd to 25th, I had the opportunity to once again attend Millésime Bio, an annual organic wine exposition in Montpellier, France. It not only proved to be an exciting and challenging experience with my struggling French but offered me a closer view into the diverse world of wine. A wide range of regions, traditions, styles and levels of quality were represented at the show. My goal this year was to further develop an appreciation for these differences and find language to capture them for my colleagues and our customers. For example, organic, biodynamic, and even no-sulfur added wines can be made quite conventionally through machine harvesting and high yields, with poor terroir, additives and invasive cellar techniques. For me, it is an ongoing effort to understand and be able to explain the differences between industrial, conventional, artisanal, natural, and heirloom even within the categories of organic, biodynamic and no-sulfur added wine. It takes tasting, re-tasting, traveling, and speaking directly with producers to be able to speak to these qualitative differences and really comprehend who is doing the work to make great wines. With this mission in mind, I reconnected with many of my favorite growers – and discovered new ones too. Here are some of the highlights! (more…)

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A Glass of Bubbly

South End wine buyer, Julie Cappellano, and Cambridge wine buyer, Gemma Iannoni, offer their top picks for bubbly to celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year! Their selections subscribe to our philosophy of selecting authentic, terroir-driven wines from producers using organic, sustainable, or biodynamic viticultural practices. (more…)

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Sulfur is a natural by-product of the wine making process and, as a result, there will always be around three to six parts per million (ppm) of naturally occurring sulfur in a wine.  Today, wine makers often elect to add sulfur for a variety of reasons throughout the wine making process whether it be in the vineyard, in the wine room or in the cellar.Sustainable wines from Formaggio Kitchen

Why do wine makers add more sulfur? In the vineyard, sulfur can be used to combat pests and diseases.  After harvest, it can be used to ensure a predictable fermentation or prolong the time before vinification by killing any yeasts or microbial life on the skins of the grapes.  In the wine cellar, sulfur is commonly used to clean barrels and fermentation vats in preparation for harvest.  It can be used in the cellar at the time of bottling (especially for export wines) to maintain a wine’s color and protect it from re-fermentation which produces a spritzy sensation on the palate.

How much sulfur are we talking about? In the European Union, the maximum sulfite level for certified biodynamic red wine is 60 ppm while the certified organic designation for red wine is limited to 90 ppm.  White wines in both categories allow slightly higher levels.  For conventional wines, the EU allows 160 ppm for red, 210 ppm for whites and rosés and 400 ppm for sweet wines.  In the U.S., the limit is 350 ppm.

So, why does the level of sulfur matter? The common perception is that sulfites in wine (especially red wine) contribute to headaches.  In fact, sulfites have been shown to affect a limited population of people (less than 1% of the population) with allergies to sulfites or asthmatic conditions.  In addition, red wine tends to have the lowest level of sulfites amongst the wine styles.  So, while many people do get headaches after drinking wine it appears unlikely that sulfites are the reason – or at least it’s unlikely they are the only reason.  Even if sulfites are innocent in this regard, we find other good reasons to seek out wines that are lower in sulfites. (more…)

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