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All the colours of France

New booklet through the post, feature on France.
Nice to have a browse through physical media again.
Big Burgundy drop for those interested, but also loads of value throughout.

Also… Our @Leah makes an appearance…

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Yes also got this through the post but really disappointed there appears to be no mention of organic or regenerative producers (unless I missed them). I made a decision this year to only buy organic and would really like to see the Society up its game in promoting and selling organic, regenerative and/or biodynamic.

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It may be useful to have a look right through this thread to understand the complexities of Organic viticulture Vs Sustainable viticulture and the varying opinions among the membership .
Organics isn’t black and white and straight forward, it’s far far more complex than that :slight_smile:

It’s quite nice being “our Leah” :wink::wink::stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Superstar Leah :star_struck:

Thanks Leah, I’ve now been through the thread and lots of interesting comments in there. Nevertheless I am personally clear that I will only buy organic/biodynamic and as a member of the Society for a long time, I would really like it to step up and find and promote quality wines of this type. This is obviously an important issue for me, maybe not so much for others but I suspect there are many of us who want to drink healthy wine from producers that are growing soil carbon content possibly and soil health generally and thinking carefully about their own environmental impact.

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You make some good points, interesting you talk about soil health. It’s useful to know heavy metals are allowed in the use of organic viticulture in the form of Copper spray, predominantly used to ward of mildew .
From a personal point of view I would rather drink a wine from a winery engaged in sustainable viticulture and wine making than a certified Organic winery pumping heavy metals into the soils.
As you rightly point out soil health is extremely important and wineries who are actively involved in sustaining local eco systems and pest management systems shouldn’t be ignored because they don’t have an official organic or biodynamic certification .

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yes, regarding soil health. But I’m not sure that vineyards contain a lot of soil carbon. They tend to be on soils that are poor in organic matter (your classic Bordeaux gravels). certainly it is quite different to a deciduous forest, where there is more carbon below than above ground… anyway, I digress into my ecology pedantry.

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On a different subject, so nice to see a Beaujolais Blanc from Jean-Paul Brun on the list! We drank a few of his 2018 ‘Fûts de Chêne’ Bojo Blanc last year, and loved it - a well made, flavoursome Chardonnay, at a fair price.

The one on TWS list is the ‘Classic’, which hasn’t seen oak, I think - but a few are now in the basket :+1:

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Sorry in advance for the long post, I’ve just scrolled back up!

I understand your point of view and why you have a preference for organic/biodynamic wine, but as Leah points out, it is very nuanced issue. So many winemakers practice organic/biodynamic but aren’t certified for a host of reasons.

As a case in point, I listened to an interesting podcast today - Wine for Normal People - featuring an interview with Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines in Australia (link here)

A great listen, his respect for his land is absolutely evident throughout, but of particular relevance to this conversation comes around 30 minutes. He is totally organic for 6 years out of 7 (on average), but that 7th year is so wet, which threatens a very high percentage of the crop, he would have to spray an enormous amount of copper onto the grapes to avoid the financial loss. Instead, he will use a systemic spray twice in Spring to combat the mildew instead of copper. Although copper is permitted under organic farming and systemic sprays aren’t, it is his opinion that his land is adversely affected less by the systemic spray than copper.

His comment on not intervening was “it is very difficult to be green when you are in the red”. If you charge so much for your wine that you can afford to lose a crop every seven years or you have other income away from wine that gives you that luxury, then all very well, but it is totally unsustainable for most winemakers to do this.

The whole podcast is around an hour, so lots more discussed, but the Bindi approach is one I would expect to be very common throughout the wine making world.

I think that TWS could do a lot better when it comes to indicating how the grapes are grown or wine is made. Other online retailers state very clearly for each wine if it is organic / biodynamic certified / practising. There is nothing like this detailed for each wine on the TWS website, which I think should be improved.

If you use the search term organic, you get 21 products (including 2 gins). Admittedly if you use the certified organic filter there are 85 results. If you search using biodynamic, you get 3 different product lines. I am certain that more of the 1,842 products available are practising organic or biodynamic and potentially more actually certified.

I can’t say for sure, but from memory, during the conversation Toby Morrhall and Etienne de Montille (available on TWS YouTube channel here), I think Etienne stated that the Domaine is biodynamic. This isn’t detailed anywhere on the 17 wines TWS currently sell from de Montille.

I think having such information freely available to members would influence purchasing decisions. There are many of us who have a particular focus on wines made in this way and I think this is a growing segment within the membership.

Probably worth adding as a footnote that TWS historically stated that they don’t choose wine based on its organic credentials, they select the best wine at the best price from winemakers with whom they want to build a positive relationship. I firmly support this as I believe that wine makers and grape growers who have a quality focus are naturally more in touch with their vineyards and will make decisions that treat their land as precious and although may not expend the effort, time and money getting certified do many of the same things that certified growers do as a matter of course.

Edit - so many typos and errors, so many edits :scream:

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This offering caught my eye.

I’m familiar with the Domaine as it’s the first one you see on the right on the D48 after coming off the main D935 heading into Madiran village. Impressive SE facing site. Never visited. And also not part of the Crouseilles co-operative. Would be an interesting purchase and the price doesn’t deter.

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First reviewed three years ago at the same price!

same vintage ? I guess it didn’t sell so well after all. Personally I’m not tempted as I have dozens of maturing madirans in my place in France; it’s just frustrating that they are so beyond reach at the moment !

I’ll just put a marker down here for my personal favourite madiran in terms of QPR - Denis Capmartin’s Chateau Barrejat vieux ceps which goes for about €11, it’s a real stonker of a bargain.

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James, your comments are very pertinent and I agree with you largely. I will listen to the podcast and I agree 100% on the need for better, accurate labelling of wines/vineyards so we can understand clearly what we are buying. Most regenerative farmers more broadly are ‘on a journey’ and will be somewhere towards their ultimate objective but not entirely. Some are 100% organic, use cover crops and minimise tilling but will need to till on occasions. Others avoid tilling entirely because it is so damaging to the soil but will revert to herbicides one year in 4 to create when new planting is needed. Winemakers will likewise be on this journey (with the issues of fungicides) in some cases and those are the wines I would like to applaud and support. Once knowledge is sufficiently advanced and soils are sufficiently repaired, we can perhaps look forward to 100% organic wines that are sold locally and are grown alongside all sorts of beneficial plants, green manures and mulches in ways which benefit local biodiversity and the soil and protect vines from attack naturally. Thanks again.

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Never tried their wines but would absolutely love to.

The Bindi Quartz Chardonnay on The Wine Front from 2015-19 has gone:
97, 97, 96, 97, 97 so consistently outstanding.

Their Block 5 PN in the same time:
96+, 96+, 97, 97, 96

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Yes, I had a quick look around after the podcast and concluded so would I. However, my quick look revealed that it would be a bit tricky! They don’t even list an importer for the UK on their website :slightly_frowning_face:

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Yes, a boutique producer. One of those producers that I’m sure are found all over the world where production is very small and sells out easily domestically so they haven’t needed to investigate export markets.
The saying “I’m sure they keep all the good stuff for themselves” applies here I think.

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I’d recommend the podcast. They have a 400 acre estate, with only around 40 (I think) put to vine. They are thinking about planting another three acres, but Michael isn’t keen on covering his landscape with vines so for now will leave it there.

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Yeah I will do

I buy certified organic when possible because it is a standard. Too many wines these days claim to respect nature or use some some other woolly phrase but I don’t have time to check out each producer. Certified organic may not be perfect but it is defined and if the producer claims biodynamic as well so much the better.

I feel that TWS is very lukewarm on organic, I’ve read their articles saying there are no benefits, they don’t use organic signs on EP offer brochures etc. I can’t understand why because they could increase sales if it was easier to find organic wines on their list.

I’ve had a couple of those (there’s a review full of my usual grammatical errors) and would quite happily go back for more.

It does seem there might be some bottle variation, but at this price I’m willing to risk it.

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