Organic Spain

VineyardSpain leads the charge to organic wines, as Andrew Catchpole reports.

Growth in interest in sustainably made wines – including organic, biodynamic and natural wines – continues to rise, fuelled by top end restaurants and wine enthusiasts, with 25 to 40 year olds generally being at the forefront when it comes to driving this trend.

Other, perhaps less committed consumers, are nonetheless also likely to consider the provenance and authenticity of wines that they buy, with ‘green’ credentials a strong plus in an increasingly environmentally conscious world.

Step up to the mark Spain, which is a world leader in organic wines, with much of this country’s climate providing ideal conditions for adopting such practices.

This is why this year’s Wines from Spain Annual Tasting will be featuring a dedicated free-pour ‘Going Green’ organic and sustainable wine flight area.

“At the moment Spain is the best source of certified organic wines – in terms of ranges available, clear and modern labelling and single varietals, although there are also many blends, which helps smaller estates make their own individual style of wine,” says Lance Pigott, founder and director at leading organic specialist Vintage Roots.

“Spain offers some of the best prices in Europe and in my opinion, it is the most dynamic country in terms of what is on offer for those seeking organic wine,” he adds.

From a buyer’s perspective, this means rich hunting ground for wines that tick all the right boxes with eco-conscious consumers, and ones that are often good value too.

Moreover, a wide range of Spanish producers, ranging from market leaders such as Torres to Albet I Noya (a Spanish pioneer in the field of organic wines) by way of many small, artisanal labels, have embraced organic production, meaning a wide range of choice when it comes to satisfying this now mainstream category on any consumer-focused list.

“We have seen an increased interest in organic and biodynamic wines, so with Spain now accounting for nearly a quarter of the world’s organic production, it is a good place to meet that demand,” says Teresa Burridge, director of Burridges of Arlington Street.

“With Spain’s continuous striving to improve quality we are seeing significant growth outside of the more traditional regions such as Rioja and Ribera del Duero. There we have a superb range of indigenous reds, such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Garnacha Tintorera, Mencía, Monastrell, Graciano, Bobal and Cariñena, but also a diverse and dynamic range of whites, with wines like Viura, Garnacha Blanca, Tempranillo Blanco, Godello, Treixadura, Albariño and Verdejo, as well as in the organic sector,” says Burridge.

“With an increased interest in a healthier and a more natural diet and the growing concern over the sustainability of certain agricultural production methods, there is a driving force and demand worldwide for organic wines,” she adds.

Spain’s ability to produce good quality organic wine is, in large part, rooted in the favourable climate across much of the Iberian peninsula, lending winemakers a helping hand when it comes to dry, more disease-resistant conditions that help with more sustainable viticulture.

“Spain seems to be well suited – the total hectares of vines under organic and in conversion in Spain far outweigh those in France and Italy, and are set to rise faster than in both those countries,” says Pigott.

“Obviously the weather helps a great deal, especially in the huge central region of La Mancha and neighbouring areas of Almansa, Valencia and Murcia (Jumilla and Yecla) – these regions and their climate help towards the production of no added sulphur wines, of which we are seeing many more becoming available,” he adds.

And, as Burridge points out, the choice of wines combining organic credentials and quality is wide and growing, with organic production spreading out across the country, from Rioja to Penedès and down to Jerez in the south.

Moreover, as a rule of thumb, many organic producers also lean towards greater freshness and restraint in their winemaking, giving an added fillip to the appeal of their wines, hitting not one but two trends that are increasingly driving consumer engagement with wine.

It’s a winning combination and one that Spain should take full credit for in an increasingly environmentally fragile world.

‘Going Green: A focus on Spain’s organic and sustainable winemaking’ will be a self-pour tasting, taking place at the central bar on level 35 of the Sky Garden at this year’s Wines from Spain Annual Tasting.