Spanish Organic Wines, our producers:
In Spain organic produce is called ecológico or biológico. It comes under European Union regulations, but is regulated by each region within Spain. So, within Spain there is no standard for organic wine; indeed there is currently no such thing as organic wine in the EU. Organic wine regulations for the EU may come in time for the 2012 vintage – it is however doubtful that all countries will adhere to the same standards and within the same time span. So, for now a region such as Catalonia or La Rioja sets its own standards for organic agriculture, as it would for wine. Independent certification boards carry out inspections and analysis to verify growers are in line with the norms. Grapes and wine are tested for the absence of certain chemicals and residuals. Once certified, products carry both the European and Spanish regional organic agriculture labels as appropriate.
The Spanish organic wine sector is very dynamic thanks to the enthusiastic investment by many bodegas. Over the last few years, the area committed to organic agriculture has tripled and the number of bodegas making organic wine increased from 340 to 460. In 20 years, organic wineries in Spain have grown from zero to more than 100, with every wine producing region represented.
One of the leading lights of organic wines in Spain is Dionisio de Nova who has many awards for his organically grown wines. His belief is that a wine that is organic will not necessarily be good; however it may be good and this would be because growing grapes organically requires that a great deal of care to be taken at every step of cultivation, pruning, picking, and vinification. And, vines that have to work harder to derive nutrients from poor soil produce grapes with more colour, aroma and flavour.
A winemaker who shares this philosophy is Josep María Albet i Noya. He produces well regarded wines and cava (sparkling wine) from organic vineyards in the Penedès region of Catalonia. Josep María was the first in Spain to make ecological wine in1982. He points out that non-organic farming was a 20th century phenomenon, with the introduction of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and synthetic pesticides. Organic growing, in a sense, is back-to-the-future. “In Spain, organic is easy” Josep Maria claims “the conditions are right: hot and dry means fewer diseases. What’s not easy is making good wine. That has to come first.” He is committed to organic wines because he believes it’s the best way to achieve quality wines.
Conventional vines are chemically fertilized and regularly sprayed against disease with chemicals. These systemic chemicals are absorbed through the roots into the vine’s sap and passed through leaves, stems and fruit. Chemical residue ends up in the grapes and therefore the wine. Organic viticulture uses only external treatments, seeking to restore the soil’s balance.
La Rioja, Spain’s most well-established and respected wine region, is in the vanguard of organic wine producing. Many individual winemakers are dedicated to ecological production as is the provincial Rioja government. They include Alicia Rojas (Rioja Tinto “Solarce”)
One of our favourite producers is the highly rated Delgado Brothers just outside of Socuéllamos. They founded their organic winery and vineyard in 1998 and now have over 200ha under cultivation and certified Sohiscert and Ecocert.
Low Sulphur Wines in Spain
Sulphites are preservatives added to stop wine oxidising and turning into vinegar, a fault of some bio wines. Many people react badly to sulphites, especially asthmatics, but restrictions on how much can be added are complicated because sulphites are a natural product of making wine. Spain has many low sulphur wines including the great value “no added sulphur” Theresa Airen, Tierra de Castilla made by Delgado
Bio-Dynamic Wines in Spain
In Spain, there are a limited number of bio-dynamic wine growers. One of the best known is Dominio de Punctum organic estate and winery in Castilla – La Mancha, Spain.
Spanish Vegetarian Wines
90% of our Spanish Organic Wines are suitable for vegans, a higher proportion can be classified as vegetarian wines.