AFFORDABLE, DISCERNING, ORGANIC
Friday 8th April
7.30pm (till 10.30 approx.)
£15 until Friday 1st April
42-46 Bethel Street
Norwich NR2 1NR
Wine is a product of agriculture. All winemakers emphasise the importance of the raw material – of the grapes. Their ripeness, and their health.
Unlike the bases for most alcoholic drinks, grapes are (usually) fermented within hours of picking, and wine producers only get one harvest a year. So they sweat and wrangle over the optimum moment to pick – the tiny window in which the sugars and acids are in balance. Get that right, and the rest of the winemaking will be expressing what is inherently good in the grapes; get that wrong, and winemaking will be a corrective process.
A commonly quoted maxim runs that ‘you can make bad wine from good grapes; but you can’t make good wine from bad grapes.’ That’s because a wine is grown as much as it is made. What goes into and onto our grapes also goes into our wine.
A lot of talk of organic wine is centred around sulphites. And whilst it is a consideration, and a serious issue for some, it misses the main point – that grapes, thin-skinned, permeable and sweet, are prone to disease, and are one of the most heavily-sprayed agricultural crops. Most chemical herbicides and pesticides are systemic (otherwise they wouldn’t be cost-effective), so they penetrate the vines and end up in the grapes. You can read more about this on the Pesticide Action Network’s website. http://www.pan-uk.org/
A growing number of major wine producers have converted to organic, and even biodynamic, viticulture. Josmeyer in the Alsace, Huet in the Loire, Chapoutier in the Rhone. A lot of quality wine is sold on the back of the concept of terroir, which in essence is the extent to which a wine is an expression of the place in which it is grown – the relationship between the vine and its environment. But we, as wine drinkers, also have a relationship to that environment. We can cultivate biodiversity, microbial life in our soil, and vines strong enough to withstand disease. We can buy organic wine, and make that our habit.
What’s healthy for our environment is healthy for us too. In addition to the pleasures of taste, organic wines are merciful in the morning. Wine was reinvented for this writer after switching to organic, and he’s not alone in suffering punitive effects from moderate wine drinking. In addition to standards in the vineyard, 60 additives otherwise permitted are banned from organic wines.
You don’t have to pay a fortune for a good organic wine. Our latest tasting is designed to show you can get good and varied wines for under £10 a bottle. From a tangy but rounded Côtes du Gascogne to a fresh and grassy Sauvignon Blanc; from a peppery, dry Grenache rosé to a ripe and rich Spanish Merlot, there is an exiciting variety of affordable organic wine to be found at the Greenhouse. So come to our latest informal and unpretentious wine tasting to discover your favourite style.
And for those of you who can’t get into – or home from – Norwich on a Friday evening, we’ve devised Lunchtime Tippling with Tom, a potted version of the evening tasting, also on April 8th. From 12.30 till 1.30pm, Tom will introduce three wines on the list overleaf in a guided tasting, for a cost of £5 per person in advance. Lunch will be available to buy in the café afterwards.
And every Friday evening, from April 15th until July 1st, the Greenhouse will be open until 9pm, to allow you to sample the many fruits of organic viticulture. Sign up to our mailing list to find out more.
The Evening’s Wines:
1) ‘Pont de Caylus’, Côtes du Gascognes IGP, 2015.
Grape varieties: Ugni Blanc / Colombard. From Gascony, France. 12% abv. Shop price £8.25
2) Sauvignon Blanc, ‘La Marouette’ Pays d’Oc IGP, 2015. From Languedoc-Roussillon, France. 12% abv. Shop price £9.50
Served with homemade parsley pesto
3) Grenache rosé ‘La Marouette’ Pays d’Oc IGP 2014. Languedoc-Roussillon, France. 12%, £8.95
4) Aglianico Era, 2011. From Terre Degli Osci IGT, Molise, Italy. 13%, £9.95
Served with Lye Cross Wensleydale Cheese
5) Barbera ‘Passaia’ 2014. Provincia di Pavia IGT, Lombardy, Italy. 13%, £9.95
6) Merlot Casa de la Ermita, 2014. Jumilla, Murcia, Spain. 15%, £8.95.
Served with Patatas Bravas
All foodstuffs organic. Served with organic bread.
Feedback from our last organic wine tasting:
‘The talks were witty, relaxed & informative without pretension’
‘Very well paced & planned event’
‘Very pleasant & convivial & always interesting.’