Today, April 22, 2018, is Earth Day. First designated in 1970 following a number of ecological crisis related to industrial development and pollution, Earth Day called attention to the plight of the planet and led to changes in laws and practices including the development of the Environmental Protection Agency, the passage of the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act, and more important legislation in the United States.
This year Earth Day will be celebrated in 192 countries and by a billion people around the world, with many focused on this year’s theme of ending plastic pollution, much of it caused by our dependence on single use plastic which too often ends up in landfills and the ocean. People will take part in marches, festivals, and other actions.
Why this emphasis? According to the Earth Day Network, “From poisoning and injuring marine life to the ubiquitous presence of plastics in our food to disrupting human hormones and causing major life-threatening diseases and early puberty, the exponential growth of plastics is threatening our planet’s survival.
EDN points out that, “According to international experts, it is estimated that approximately a trillion plastic bags are used around the world every year. If current pollution rates continue, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish by 2050, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The average plastic bag is used for 20 minutes and takes more than 400 years to break down. To give these numbers a local context, in 2015, the world produced 322 million tonnes of plastic. That equals 900 Empire State Buildings!”
The Earth Day Network encourages everyone everywhere to take part in a billion acts of green — and they accomplished that and more: the goal is now THREE billion acts.
Fortunately, our favorite beverage rarely if ever comes in PLASTIC. Instead, we usually find it in highly recyclable glass bottles, and sometimes in also easily recyclable aluminum cans. Some wineries are even choosing to use lighter weight bottles to reduce their carbon footprint.
But there are other choices to make.
One that you’ve probably considered is whether the wine is made using commercial or organic, biodynamic, and sustainable processes.
Another choice is closure: choosing natural cork closures ensures the continued health of the cork forests which sequester carbon and provide homes to diverse creatures.
Choosing wines sealed with a natural cork preserves millions of acres of cork oak forest with a biodiversity second only to the Amazon Rainforest.
For your Earth Day toasting pleasure, may we suggest two biodynamic wines — one with natural cork and one with a bottle cap?
Roederer Estate Sparkling Wine SRP $24
58% Chardonnay, 42% Pinot Noir
Sourced from California’s Anderson Valley, this sparkling wine is produced using biodynamic farming practices, and is widely available. This is a real “feel-good” wine! UPDATE: While they do have biodynamic vineyards, Pam Strayer set me straight and shared the link to this post with all the details. Thanks Pam!
Color: Pale golden straw.
Nose: Yeasty, brioche bread, a typical French style nose which is not surprising considering this wine is made by the French Champagne house that also makes Cristal! There’s not a lot of fruit or florals, but then again, most people are not buying sparkling wine for the nose or the color — it is all about the bubbles and the palate as well as price and this one has always been a go to for me because it offers such great value.
Palate: Clean fresh, nice green apple up front and on the finish, there is some minerality, but it’s not about the acid. You don’t have to think about it that hard, but if you think about it, it is really nice.
Pairings: This is a wine you can enjoy with breakfast, lunch, or dinner; it is a very versatile wine. great with finger foods or a seafood supper. Our crab rangoon were nice with it. It liked the creamy richness of the crab and cheese. It cuts through the fried finger foods as well as roast chicken and scallops prepared in butter and garlic over rice. My favorite pairing was fresh seared ahi tuna marinated in teriyaki sauce — the wine brought out a wonderful umami to the tuna and the tuna brought out more fruit in the wine, bringing both into focus.
And yes, I did taste this wine over three nights with three different meals. How? Besides showing restraint, I use the “spoon trick” where I placed a spoon in the next of the bottle. I have no idea how it works I’m just grateful that it does! The wine was as lovely and bubbly on Saturday as it was on Thursday and Friday!
2014 Johan – Petillant Naturel – Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley – 13.0% alcohol SRP $23
(purchased at Wine House LA)
While at first glance this may seem like your typical Rose, or rose sparkling wine, but it’s not: This is one of the more unusual and fascinating wines we’ve come across in a while! This wine is all about the color and nose as well as what happens when it crosses your palate — SHAZAM. While it might not be for everyone, we really enjoyed how it comes across more like a red wine that you’d expect by looking at this rose color — however, note that it DOES NOT say rose of pinot noir on the label, it simply says Pinot noir!
But what exactly is it? You’ll notice right away that it has a bottle cap closure which is certainly better than a plastic cork!
The winery says: “Pétillant Naturel is a method of producing sparkling wine, also referred to as “Methode Ancestrale”, where the carbonation occurs from bottling the wine during the primary, alcoholic fermentation – in order to capture the carbon dioxide that is being naturally released. This sparkling rosé was made from all estate-grown, Demeter certified Biodynamic® Pinot Noir grapes. The fruit was picked relatively early, at lower sugars and higher acidity, for a fresh and juicy expression from our site. After 24 hours of skin contact, the grapes were pressed and fermented in a stainless steel tank before it was bottled at the tail end of its primary fermentation on October 26, 2016. Bottled unfiltered and contains lees – pour off slowly or invert to evenly distribute.”
In 2015, this way of making wine was the height of hipsterdom; I probably bought it in 2016 at Wine House in Los Angeles on the recommendation of a somm following a Champagne seminar. I went for it also because I remembered the biodynamic Johan sparkling wines I tasted at the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland.
Discussing this method, Zachary Susan writes:
“Striving for rawness, it rejects the standardization of conventional sparkling wine in favor of something unfiltered, unadulterated and identified, however loosely, with the past. This artisanal impulse, which remains inseparable from the natural wine movement as a whole, actually speaks to a very modern form of longing—not for the past, per se, but for our collective fantasy of it,”
Color: In the bottle it is close to a fresh raspberry color — the color of the fresh fruit– with a weird cloudy, hazy translucency.
Nose: Bright cherry — tons of fruit on the nose, not sweet or stewed — it is all about the fresh fruit, with a little cooked rhubarb as well. A bit yeasty too, and potpouri.
Palate: Fresh cherry fruit, and plenty of it, with interesting herbal notes, a voluptuous mouthfeel with acidity and minerals, and a long luxurious finish. This wine takes you on a wild ride and you will not want to get off!
Pairings: This wine has enough acidity or bubbles to cut through rich, fried appetizers, and it went well with roast chicken. Super food friendly, this wine also went well with a fried green bean appetizer and it loved the crab rangoon. My favorite pairing was with grilled salmon.
People who are cider fans or beer geeks will get off on this wine too. If you have a wine geek friend, even if it is no longer the hipster beverage of the day, they will love you and appreciate you for it.
Bring this to brunch!
It would be fun to give this wine to someone on a blind tasting and have them figure out what is in their glass, this is a very unique wine. It takes on the characteristics of a Pinot Noir.
Oregon is well known for sustainable farming and winemaking, based on the fact that it has the most certified sustainable vineyard land of any major U.S. wine growing state: Oregon understands that great wine starts with healthy land.
But while there will be 50 or more wineries pouring at that event including biodynamic Cooper Mountain which I will be writing about next, we’ll have to wait for the Biodynamic Wine Conference in San Francisco May 6 and 7 to taste more wine from Johan!
So happy Earth Day! For more about how to celebrate, including Sierra Club’s idea to take a hike in your neighborhood today, check out this post on Art Predator.