Wine has been around for centuries, and over the years, its manufacturing methods have been adjusted to keep up with the growing demand and mass production requirements. As a result, some wines suffer in terms of quality and are unable to truly express the flavor and features of the grape. But California organic wines—especially those that come from certified organic vineyards and wineries—beg to differ.
You may be wondering if biodynamic wines are different from organic wines. The simple answer is yes. To understand their dissimilarities, it’s important to understand the four different types of wine in the market today and how each one is defined.
1. Organic wine
Organic wines have no added sulfites and are made using Certified Organic grapes in a certified organic vineyard. Certified Organic grapes are grown without herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers applied.
Do note that this definition is only applicable in the US. Other countries may have their own definitions of “organic wine”, and in some cases, they may contain carefully regulated and monitored sulfites to maintain quality and stability.
You can find the best organic wine from a CCOF certified organic winery. These wines are made without any harsh chemicals, resulting in whites that are vibrant and refreshing and reds that are soft and velvety.
2. Organically Grown
Some California organic wines are “organically grown”, which means that they were made with organic grapes, with carefully-regulated sulfites added.
3. Natural wines
These are sustainable or eco-friendly wines that are shown as being manufactured in a more conscious way compared to conventionally-manufactured wines. They are cleaner with fewer chemicals, with regulated SO2. That said, no official regulating third-party agencies are assessing the quality of this type of wine. This is why there are no assessment standards and no exact definition for ‘natural’ wine.
4. Biodynamic wine
Biodynamic wine is produced following the Demeter Institute's standards and is likewise certified by the same organization. The standard requires Certified Organic grapes with a planting and harvesting schedule, which is dictated by a biodiverse environment and moon cycles. This way, the vineyard becomes its own thriving ecosystem.
Biodynamic certification allows regulated SO2 levels in the wine. Although biodynamic wines are often more expensive than certified organic wines, their care of animal species and focus on the environment make them quite popular with environmentally-conscious consumers.
Going by these definitions, organic wines are derived from grapes grown without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or herbicides. Additionally, all the ingredients are certified.
On the other hand, biodynamic wine has a heavier emphasis on organic processes and ingredients, including the interconnectivity of the earth, the solar system, and our planet. Biodynamic farming practices were pioneered in the 1920s by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher. They involve the use of an astronomical calendar to time the stages of farming, harvesting, watering, and pruning. The vineyard is also allowed to ‘rest.’ You can easily identify biodynamic wine by its official seal from Demeter or Bidyvin on the label.
There are fewer additives in the best organic wine and there are no harsh chemicals. This results in a more refreshing and flavorful wine that simply tastes better, according to many experts. You’re more likely to notice and appreciate the grape’s flavor and varietal in organic wine, too.
Studies continue to prove the health benefits of drinking wine when taken in moderation. Although all types of wines can be healthy, California organic wines and other organic wines are said to be even better. Here are five reasons why.
1. More antioxidants
Red wines are especially rich in resveratrol, a polyphenol or powerful antioxidant that’s found in the grape skin and juice. Antioxidants help your body fight off toxins and free radicals that can damage your organs and cells.
According to studies, resveratrol promotes longevity and health by increasing the activity of sirtuins, proteins that protect your body against aging diseases. Several studies also suggested that drinking wine may lead to longer life spans, as long as it’s consumed moderately. So, if you want to improve your immunity against age-related diseases, make room for California organic wines in your diet. Be sure to drink it moderately.
2. Improve brain health
Our memory naturally declines as we age, but some people develop Alzheimer’s and dementia. Memory decline and other poor memory conditions may be prevented by the nutrients found in the best organic wine.
Dementia is a persistent or chronic disorder of the mental process that gradually occurs during old age. Studies found that drinking wine can help reduce the risk of developing that condition, including Alzheimer’s. This effect is attributed to the high levels of resveratrol in wines. The antioxidant helps keep blood vessels open to ensure the proper delivery of glucose and supply to the brain. And if you want to drink wine and make new memories, you might want to consider booking a visit to one of the best wineries in Santa Ynez.
3. Improve mood
Depression is a serious disorder that can negatively impact the way you think, feel, and deal with daily activities. It may sound contradictory, but alcohol consumption—particularly a glass of wine every now and then—has been shown to help improve its symptoms.
PREDIMED conducted a seven-year study of 5,500 light to moderate drinkers and discovered that those who drank two to seven glasses of wine in one week were less prone to depression than those who didn’t. That said, you should drink in moderation as heavy drinking can worsen the condition. Avoid taking antidepressants with wine, too.
And if you’re feeling a bit down, perhaps visiting one of the best wineries in Santa Ynez to unwind and enjoy nature could also lift your spirits.
4. Healthier skin
Drinking alcohol is known to dehydrate skin, but moderate consumption of organic wines may help improve the signs of skin aging. That’s because of the high antioxidant content in wines. Wine also stimulates blood circulation to prevent skin aging and wrinkle formation. When applied directly to the skin, the best organic wine can prevent acne-causing bacteria, rejuvenate skin, create a natural glow, and increase skin elasticity.
5. Boost immunity
Researchers found that drinking wine daily may improve the immune system because it’s rich in antioxidants. Ethanol, a chemical component of wine and alcoholic beverages, is also found to help boost the potency of vaccinations.
Discover more of the benefits of organic wines at Coquelicot Estate Vineyard. We’re a certified organic vineyard and our winery is CCOF Certified Organic, too. That means there are no harsh chemicals in our winemaking process.
Wine 101 Sangiovese & Carbonic Maceration
Sangiovese is the most planted variety in Italy (about 10 percent of total acreage), especially in Tuscany, where it is thought to have originated, with documentation as far back as the sixteenth century. It is also grown extensively in the Mendoza province in Argentina, increasingly in California, and to a limited extent in Australia. Plantings in California date back to about 1880.
Wines made from Sangiovese tend to exhibit the grape's naturally high acidity as well as moderate to high tannin content and light color. Blending can have a pronounced effect on enhancing or tempering the wine's quality. The dominant nature of Cabernet can sometimes have a disproportionate influence on the wine, even overwhelming Sangiovese character with black cherry, black currant, mulberry and plum fruit.
Different regions will impart varietal character on the wine with Tuscan Sangiovese having a distinctive bitter-sweet component of cherry, violets and tea. In their youth, Tuscan Sangiovese can have tomato-savoriness to it that enhances its herbal component. Californian examples tend to have more bright, red fruit flavors with some Zinfandel-like spice or darker fruits depending on the proportion of Cabernet blended in. Argentine examples showing a hybrid between the Tuscan and California Sangiovese with juicy red fruit wines that end on a bitter cherry note.
A Food Friendly wine, this is due to Sangiovese's high acidity and moderate alcohol. One of the classic pairings in Italian cuisine is tomato-based pasta and pizza sauces with a Sangiovese-based Chianti. Varietal Sangiovese or those with a smaller proportion of the powerful, full-bodied Cabernet blended in, can accentuate the flavors of relatively bland dishes like meatloaf and roast chicken. Herb seasoning such as basil, thyme and sage play off the herbal notes of the grapes. Sangiovese that has been subject to more aggressive oak treatment pairs well with grilled and smoked food.
Carbonic maceration is a form of whole bunch fermentation, when whole bunches of uncrushed grapes are used in fermentation of red wines. Conventional alcoholic fermentation involves crushing the grapes to free the juice and pulp from the skin with yeast serving to convert sugar into ethanol. Carbonic maceration ferments most of the juice while it is still inside the grape, although grapes at the bottom of the vessel are crushed by gravity and undergo conventional fermentation. The resulting wine is fruity with very low tannins. Some key flavors associated with carbonic maceration would be: Bubble gum, Kirsch, Banana, Strawberry
How it works Whole bunches of grapes are placed in vats, which are then sealed and filled with CO2 to remove the oxygen. This triggers a process within the grapes known as intracellular fermentation. Once alcohol levels reach around 2% abv, the grape skins split and release their juice. Carbonic maceration extracts some color from the grapes but little tannin, generally creating red wines that are light in color, low in tannin and which have a soft, fruity wines character. Wines made in this style include Beaujolais Nouveau and are often best when drunk young and sometimes even lightly chilled.