By Rick Riozza
So what wine did you celebrate with for last week’s Earth Day?
Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. I don’t know if we’ve had this particular discussion before, but among wine, beer, cocktails or hard seltzer it seems as though the most natural adult beverage to cheer on the environment is wine.
Not to belabor a dubious argument, but one does need some structured refrigeration to make a lager beer; or, some distillation materials to produce vodka, tequila, or a whiskey. But wine can be created by simply throwing some grapes into a vat. I’ve done it! We threw some ripe Muscat grapes into a large glass container, covered it and within a week, we had some tasty rose.
All right—so let’s get back to what wine we’re using to toast Mother Earth. In today’s world, climate change and environmental sustainability are of unprecedented concern. In order to combat these issues, it’s critical for companies around the world to use renewable energy and adapt sustainable practices within the areas of agriculture and infrastructural development.
Honestly, in the last twelve months or so, we’ve had the opportunity to write on many of the organic and sustainable farmed vineyards from Bonterra to La Crema, from Landmark to The Organic Cellar of Laguna Hills whose curated portfolio offers the best organic, vegan, and biodynamic wines from around the world. But there’s nothing like a fun challenge to choose a particular wine to celebrate a particular day
If you remember, last summer we did a column titled “The 2020 Surprise Sipper.” where we wrote on a British sparkling wine that is rumored to be one the Queen’s favorite; and, the Champagne-style wine of choice served at Pippa Middleton’s wedding.
Indeed, it alerted many of you wine folk that world class premium sparkling wine is alive and doing well in England.
And that wine was the 2013 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs. Our review comments included: “So on the nose, you’ve got that classic combination of English orchard fruit and zesty citrus, with decadent warm pastry tones and hints of nutty complexity. Remember this blanc de blancs wine is 100% Chardonnay, and the aromas show a pure focused core of Chard.”
Nyetimber wines are made in England from 438 acres, the largest vineyard in the UK with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier—the classic Champagne varieties. Their aim was to make premium sparkling wine that would rival Champagne.
During my research of the Nyetimber Estate Vineyards I came to learn that they designed their vineyards with “wildlife corridors” so as to not disrupt the larger surrounding wildlife; thus, they protect their habitats by replanting the woodland and wildflower meadows.
Other important environmental endeavors include putting sheep to use instead of lawn mowers in winter. This significantly lowers carbon emissions and their droppings even help contribute nutrients to the soil using natural and gentle ways of protecting the grapes. The estate uses sonar, kites and bird bangers before considering microbicides. And they consistently make natural fertilizer out of pressed grape skins and other winemaking waste.
Further, the winery tells us: “The climate here in England allows for the slow ripening of our grapes, allowing us to achieve the optimum levels of ripeness and acidity, as well as the complexity and finesse for which our exquisite wines are renowned.”
“Spread across several separate sites, our vines are perfectly suited to the green and chalk soils of Sussex, Hampshire and Kent. The gentle south-facing slopes allow for the best possible exposure to the English sunshine, ensuring our grapes achieve the optimum level of ripeness before harvest.”
With all that in mind, well—I just couldn’t resist it: last week our family quaff for Mother Earth 2021 went to Nyetimber’s flagship wine, the Classic Cuvée Multi-Vintage.($55). The winery notes are sound & succinct: a classic blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier that has distinctive toasty and spicy aromas. A palate of honey, almond, pastry and baked apples gives it a hint of decadence.
British wine maven, Richard Hemming opined, “Tasting the Classic Cuvée reminded me of just how excellent Nyetimber is: it has all the delicious bakery and fresh-apple aromas of traditional-method sparkling wines, plus a wonderful earthy, mushroomy note. The high acidity gives it zip and salinity, but there is plenty of flesh on these bones, providing excellent balance.”
“The average score for Nyetimber’s last three years of the non-vintage is equivalent to Roederer, Bollinger, Pol Roger and many others. In fact, it’s closer to Krug.” Hey—you’ve got to love the Brits when it comes to the French!
For Earth Day, we enjoyed this British sparkler with hot & spicy wings from organically fed free-range chickens. With its fast & furious bubbles, it was a match made in ecosystem heaven—if you will. Cheers!