What is Organics?
We dive in to what it all means..
A visit to a cool, new bar or restaurant recently might have left you feeling a bit out of the loop. It could be the return of 90’s fashion, although for some of us that should be familiar enough, some of it never left our wardrobe. It could also be from browsing the drinks list, as there’s been big changes in the vocabulary, style and approach to the booze many of these hot spots are now listing.
Words like natural, orange, organic, minimal intervention, vegan, unfiltered, unfined and biodynamic have entered the conversation about wine in this country, and you’re not alone in not knowing what all that means.
When New Zealand’s wine industry gained fame in the 80s and 90s, it was the up-front nature of our ‘new world’ approach that the rest of the world loved. The words ‘Marlborough’ and ‘Sauvignon Blanc’ were enough. It did what it said on the bottle, it was exuberant, recognisable drinking; a brand in and of itself that you could rely on.
What we’re starting to see and taste now is less defined. It's more ambiguous and complex. Wines are less likely to be of a single varietal, and labels don’t necessarily state what varieties the wine contains. There’s a less binary approach to the colour of wine. Beyond White or Red, there is Rosé, but also a host of styles in, around and between.
We’ve also never had greater consideration of what we consume, how it's produced, and what effects that has on our environment and health. Enter sustainable, organic, natural, biodynamic, vegan, low calorie, and low or no alcohol drinks.
Street Cred - Organics
We clock that organic OJ on the menu at our local cafe, and we rush through the organic section at the supermarket, often without thinking about what the word actually means. Yet it is one of the most recognised, definable credentials in the world of environmentally friendly food and drinks. So much so that it’s more financially beneficial for grape growers to be organically certified.
Organic Production is a system that excludes the use of synthetic, man-made herbicides and pesticides. It relies on crop rotations, manures and other organic wastes (compost) to maintain soil productivity, and to supply plant nutrients. A combination of physical or biological methods are used to control insects, weeds and other pests.
Like street cred, it’s not a credential you can bestow on yourself. It’s certified by two bodies in New Zealand, AsureQuality and BioGro. It’s also not a quick and easy process. BioGro, the most well-recognised certification in the wine industry, takes three years of compliance before certification. The accreditation meets international organic certification standards, boosting potential opportunities for producers, and strengthening this country's ‘clean, green’ image.
Our two cents? We think there’s still a bit of a stigma around organic wines. That perhaps people worry they’re substituting quality for principles. That they may taste inferior to conventional wine. We’d like to categorically clear any remaining questions about that up and bury that stigma for good. Some of New Zealand’s, and indeed the world’s, greatest wines come off organic vineyards. It is the mark of a producer who respects the land, its longevity and ability to continue making great wine. These are not just traits and behaviours that have been invented to suit a growing consumer market, they are hallmarks of winemakers who take what they do seriously and want to ensure their product is not only top-quality but also sustainable.