Today we’re sipping two wines from Chilean producer Veramonte that are made with organic grapes. These wines are an exceptional value, widely available in the US and perfect sipping as a prelude to Earth Day. We received both wines as tasting samples.
The History of Earth Day
I thought it might be fun to look at the history of Earth Day ahead of the celebration later this week. See earthday.org to find a celebration near you. Earth Day was first celebrated in the US on April 22, 1970. Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Democrat from Wisconsin, gave a speech in Seattle in the fall of 1969, in which he called for a national “environmental teach-in” as a way to call attention to our deteriorating environment. The effort, co-chaired by Republican Congressman, Pete McCloskey, enlisted the efforts of Denis Hayes, “a young activist” to organize campus teach-ins.
The movement quickly extended beyond college campuses around the US. On the first Earth Day, according to EarthDay.org, 20 million Americans (10% of the US population) gathered at rallies to demonstrate against environmental pollution.
Democratic and Republican efforts subsequently resulted in the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. A few years later the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act followed.
By 1990 Earth Day went global. Over the years, recycling, green energy and global climate change have become become the focus of Earth Day celebrations. More than one billion individuals mobilize for action every Earth Day and more than 190 countries participate worldwide.
Organic Viticulture and Winemaking
Following organic practices eliminates synthetic herbicides and pesticides from the vineyard. Organic certification, a multi-year process, goes one step further and requires the documentation of organic practices in the vineyard. Only organic-certified applications, treatments and soil amendments may be used in the vineyard. I remember an organic viticulturist telling me this applies right down to the predatory insects that are used in the vineyard to combat pests. Organic practices can make the vineyard a safer workplace and removes the possibility of soil, water and grape contamination by potentially harmful chemicals.
Soil health and diversity have been recognized as important for healthy vine growth and, many believe, result in more complex grape flavors. Cover crops and organic soil amendments help build that important soil complexity and health.
Some growers strive to certify their organic vineyards, while others practice organic farming but don’t certify. The same applies to winemaking. Some winemakers choose to certify the winemaking process (it’s a separate process from growing) and others don’t take the extra step. In many cases you have to know the winemaker’s style of winemaking and be familiar with the vineyard sources to discover if organic farming and winemaking are involved in the process.
Other wineries, like Veramonte, obtain the certification and put it on the bottle. In the case of these wines, both are certified organic by ECOCERT and bear that seal on the back label. Made With Organic Grapes on the label lets you know the grapes are certified organic, the wine contains all certified organic grapes, the wine is made in a certified organic facility, may contain up to 100ppm total sulfites and bears the certifier’s label (ECOCERT).
These Veramonte wines are also certified sustainable by Certified Sustainable Wine of Chile. The Sustainability Code applies to four areas: vineyards, winery and bottling plants, social and tourism.
2020 Veramonte Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile — medium yellow in the glass with generous aromas of underripe guava, dried grass and passion fruit. Flavors lead with tropical notes, dried grass, guava and gravelly minerality. High acidity provides a clean, juicy finish. 13.5% abv. SRP $11.99
2018 Veramonte Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, Colchagua Valley, Chile — medium ruby in the glass with generous plumy aromas. Flavors lead with ripe currants, plums, blackberries with notes of dusty earth and drying tannins. Hints of dried mint linger on the finish. 14% abv. SRP $11.99
These wines are extremely food friendly. We enjoyed them with an asparagus tart and the pairing was delicious. A day before we tasted these wines, our neighbors dropped off several bunches of fresh, locally-grown asparagus, so we put them to good use!
The portfolio of Veramonte wines includes Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Carménère, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. All are sourced from organic estate vineyards. Cool climate varieties (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir) are grown and made in Casablanca Valley. Warm climate varieties (Carménère and Cabernet Sauvignon) are grown and made in Colchagua Valley.