The move towards sustainable winemaking: Richard Esling, November 24
With Cop26 recently finished amidst varied reports of its overall success, one thing it has certainly achieved is an even greater awareness of how humans are damaging our precious world.
Whether you take the view that carbon emissions are responsible for global warming or go with the theory of many in the scientific community, that it is simply a cycle in the long history of our planet and is thus unstoppable, the destruction of habitats, extinction of animal species, pollution of our oceans and land has to stop.
While changes in wine production, including the growing of grapes, are not going to make a critical difference, there is a laudable movement world-wide towards sustainable winemaking and reducing the ‘carbon footprint’ of wineries and vineyards. Forty years ago, organic grape growing was a novelty and met with varying degrees of success. Nowadays, there are thousands of organically produced wines of excellent quality, with producers acutely aware of the effect their activities have on the environment and determined to eliminate pollution, conserve water resources and preserve biodiversity.
Bruce Jack Wines was one of only two South African brands awarded a place in Drinks International’s ‘Worlds Most Admired Wine Brands for 2021’. Independently controlled, Bruce Jack is committed to the environment, farming organically and sponsoring beach clean-ups and ocean rejuvenation programmes around the world. Bruce Jack Wines is also signed up to the Porto Protocol on sustainability in the wine business. Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blanc 2020 has notes of gooseberry and apple pie, with a twist of lime. £7 at Asda or £6 Tesco Clubcard price. At the same price in Tesco is a deliciously fruity and mellow Bruce Jack Shiraz-Malbec 2020.
Moving round the globe, Mud House is one of the well-known brands from Marlborough in New Zealand, but now venturing into South America with a Sauvignon Blanc 2021 from Chile. 100 per cent carbon neutral, the wine is fresh, zesty, with intense fruit flavours and a refreshing finish. Certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust, it is another step in the right direction for wine business. £7.50 at Asda or £9.99 from Majestic (£6.99 mix-six price). Bottling in the UK no doubt is a factor in reducing the carbon footprint to achieve neutrality.
Moving across the Andes to Argentina, Domaine Bousquet is a leader in organic wine production in the Uco Valley region of Mendoza. A pioneering, family-owned winery in the Andean foothills at Tupungato, it prides itself as ‘naturally elegant wines’. “By nourishing the land and treating it with respect we know the land will give us back its finest fruits.” An admirable philosophy, backed up by deliciously flavoursome wines.
With vineyards planted at an altitude of 4,000ft, the Domaine Bousquet unoaked Chardonnay 2021 is fresh, fruity, with tropical and white stone fruit flavours balanced by perfect acidity. £14.95 from independent merchants such as Savage Wines. At around the same price is Domaine Bousquet Reserve Malbec 2020, an elegant red highly rated by some top wine critics. Dark, plummy fruit with notes of blackberry and vanilla, with depth and complexity added by ageing in French oak barrels, marrying the Argentinian source with the French heritage of the Bousquet family. Available from Davy’s Wine Merchants and Wine Bars, London, and other independents. UK bottling of some wines are planned in the near future to further reduce their carbon footprint.
Richard Esling is a wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. He runs agency and consultancy WineWyse, is founder and principal of Sussex Wine Academy and is chairman of Arundel Wine Society