Today is Earth Day! Every year April 22 is the day set aside to celebrate environmental protection. Ideally everyone’s commitment to our environment extends beyond just one day, but the day can, at the very least, be a reminder to think of our planet and do what we can to protect it everyday.
As a winelover one of the ways I consider our planet every time I buy wine is by looking for wines made using organically or biodynamically-grown grapes. Organic and biodynamic viticultural practices eliminate synthetic herbicides and pesticides in the vineyard, thereby reducing the impact of these chemicals on Earth and, just as importantly, on the men and women who work in the vineyards.
Today we are pleased to share three wines from the respected McLaren Vale producer Paxton Wines, who follow organic and biodynamics principles in the vineyard. We received these wines as tasting samples.
I was introduced to Paxton Wines in February at the Australian Wine Winter Trade Tasting in San Francisco. Just as when I’m shopping to purchase wine, I always begin every tasting by looking for organic and biodynamic wines. Just by luck I stumbled upon Paxton Wines. The cow horn that was part of the display was my first hint that the wines might be biodynamic.
Biodynamic farming is based on organic practices — that is a farm must first follow organic principles before becoming biodynamic. Biodynamic farming principles reach back to pre-industrial practices and rely on the farm as it used to be: a self-sustaining system based on biodiversity. What does that mean? No commercial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. All inputs must be certified organic. The biodiversity of plant and soil organisms is encouraged with the use of homeopathic preparations, compost and compost teas. The Earth’s relationship to the cosmos is an essential consideration.
At Paxton, all wines are sourced only from estate vineyards and in the winery’s words:
In Paxton’s home of McLaren Vale, South Australia, our vineyards are spread across a number of sites and soil types which we manage without compromise from planting to harvest. Our mission is to produce and showcase the region’s fruit quality, varietal expression and natural diversity, particularly with Shiraz, which is now well recognised as the region’s top performing variety.Paxton Wines
2017 Paxton Cabernet Sauvignon, McLaren Vale, South Australia — medium ruby in the glass with aromas of red fruit and hints of dried mint. Fruit flavors of blackberries and ripe raspberries combine with dusty earth and dried mint in the background. The body is medium and tannins are a bit drying and well integrated with the flavors. 14% abv.
Red fruit flavors predominate in this bright, lively Cabernet Sauvignon. It isn’t overly ripe or over oaked, rather it is easy sipping and begs to be paired with pasta, crostini, burgers or pizza. And I appreciate that little hint of mint in the background that makes this wine so appealing.
Cabernet Sauvignon stands on its own in this bottling made from Cabernet sourced from various Paxton vineyard sites. The various lots were fermented in open-top fermenters before being aged in new and used French oak puncheons (500-litre barrels).
2017 Paxton AAA Shiraz Grenache, McLaren Vale, South Australia — nearly translucent ruby in the glass with generous aromas of black cherries and raspberries. Flavors of mixed berries combine with hints of cedar, stony minerality and lingering salinity. Tannins are drying and well integrated with the flavors, which are at least moderate in length. 13.5% abv.
This lovely wine began to charm me as I poured it in the glass and immediately noticed the nearly translucent ruby color. I do love the beauty of a translucent red wine and, when it delivers with ample flavor as well, I’m generally completely taken in with the wine. The combination of bright berry flavors and lingering stony minerality put this wine firmly in the charming category for me.
Shiraz (60%) from the Gateway and Jones Block vineyards is blended with Grenache. Fruit from the various parcels were fermented separately in open-top fermenters before being aged for 12 months in French and Hungarian oak barriques, blended and bottled.
2017 NOW Shiraz, McLaren Vale, South Australia — medium ruby in the glass with blackberry and raspberry aromas. Complex flavors of blackberries and raspberries combine with earthy, meaty flavors and drying tannins in a medium body. The finish is medium in length. 14% abv.
NOW stands for natural, organic wine, but it also describes the style of this wine, drink now, no need for aging. It is made from organically-grown grapes and without the addition of preservatives in the form of sulfur dioxide. The grapes were fermented in open top containers before being pressed and transferred to tank for aging.
There you have it. Three wines made using grapes that are grown organically and biodynamically. And one of them is made without the addition of sulfur dioxide.
These wines are made in a style that shows the quality and flavors of the grapes rather than the influence of oak. All will be delicious served with a slight chill as the weather begins to warm as well. What more could you want for Earth Day or any day, really?