Organic Red Wine Taste Test: The Winners and Losers

Four Organic Red Wines

While the growth of organic wine in the market place hasn’t been particularly explosive, it has been steadily increasing its market share since the 1990’s. With overall wine consumption growing in the U.S., buying organic wine makes sense for those of us concerned with supporting organic farming practices.

Some confusion exists over what constitutes organic wine. Technically speaking, few wines qualify for certification according to the high approval standards set by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which mandate organic wine be free of any sulfites. Sulfites are a naturally occurring compound and almost all winemakers add sulfur dioxide to their wines for consistency and preservation. (For more on sulfites in wine, check out this great Kitchn blog post.) Therefore, generally speaking, organic wine means wine made with “organically grown grapes.”

The question remains, however, is organic wine any good? A few of us at EcoSalon decided to see for ourselves and gathered together to taste a selection of organic red wines. We chose four reasonably priced organic wines that are considered best sellers at Whole Foods. Parducci 2006 Zinfandel, Boneterra 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vida Organica 2010 Malbec, and Green Truck 2008 Petite Sirah. I’ve summarized our findings below.

Parducci Zinfandel

Parducci 2006 Zinfandel, Mendocino County, California

Personally, I’m not a huge zinfandel fan. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this zinfandel did not have the full-blown fruitiness of most zins. This version is mildly plummy and very agreeable. Parducci, “American’s Greenest Winery,” is a family-run winery that prides itself on its sustainable business practices. Retails for $10.99.

Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon

Bonterra 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino/Lake County, California

This cabernet sauvignon was distinctly peppery. Unexpectedly bright for a cabernet, robust and highly drinkable. Everyone gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. Bonterra Vineyards has been farming organically since 1987 and makes both organic and biodynamic wines. Retails for $11.99.

Vida Organica Malbec red wine from Argentina

Vida Organica 2010 Malbec, Argentina

This Argentinian malbec was a general crowd-pleaser. It is a very mellow, non-offending, soft wine with low tannin. A good everyday wine and complement to lighter fare. Quite a reasonable buy at $8.99.

Green Truck Petite Sirah

Green Truck 2008 Petite Sirah Mendocino County, California

Unfortunately, we were not impressed by this Green Truck Petite Sirah. This was the last wine we tried, and you’d think that our standards would gradually decrease by wine number four given the mood-mellowing effects of three earlier wines. Not the case here, I’m sorry to say the words we bantered about to describe this wine included “raw,” “rustic,” “leathery,” and “crude.” Too bad, as the name is such a fun play off the “Red Truck” label often sold at Trader Joe’s. Retails for $10.99.