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Earth-Friendly Wine from Chile

An organic vineyard at Emiliana; photo courtesy Emiliana

Yet another report from my trip to the wine regions of Chile! While organic and biodynamic wines may not be on the minds of some wine lovers, "green" wine is becoming more mainstream these days and Chile produces a ton of really delicious examples of both. I didn't realize the extent of the "green" wine movement in Chile until my visit; many wineries farm biodynamically and/or organically even if they don't get the official certification. Here's a quick explanation of organic and biodynamic so you're clear on the concept. Organic wine is made from certified organically grown grapes (which means no fungicides or pesticides were used), without any synthetic additives or added sulfites (though naturally occurring sulfites will still be present). If the wine has added sulfites but is otherwise organic, it will be labeled "wine made from organic grapes."

A biodynamic wine (BD for short) means that the grapes are farmed biodynamically, and that the winemaker did not make the wine with yeast additions or acidity adjustments. A wine labeled “made from biodynamic grapes” means that a winemaker used biodynamically grown grapes, but used yeasts or other winemaking methods. 

Biodynamic is similar to organic farming in that both take place without chemicals, but biodynamic farming views the vineyard as an ecosystem, and incorporates ideas about astrology and lunar cycles and often uses homeopathic treatments to treat vine problems like mildew. 

And in case you're wondering, there's no sacrifice in taste in these wines. (In fact, some of the winemakers I spoke to said that organic and BD wines taste even better than "regular" wine.) Some of my favorite producers are Errazuriz, De Martino (which I wrote about last week); Carmen, which makes organic wine under the Nativa label; Vina San Pedro (who makes an organic line of wines called 35°South); and last but not least, Emiliana (try their 2007 Coyam, a blend of Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, and Malbec; it's the second wine in Chile to be certified biodynamic. In addition to Coyam, their wines are bottled under the Novas and Natura labels. And they are the largest organic grape grower in Chile, with 1,700 certified organic acres.) All of these wines are readily available in the U.S. and are priced in the $10-25 range; click on the websites for more info. 

Cheers to Chile!