Monday, December 21, 2009

Laudum Eco Wine from Alicante

Laudum (meaning award in Latin) Nature is an organic wine produced by the Bodegas Bocopa, an association of seven bodegas in the Alicante region. Laudum Nature is made with manually harvested Monastrell, Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes producing a dry red wine. Produced since 1998, Laudum Nature was the first organic wine in Alicante. They have 800 acres certified organic by the Comite De Agricultura Ecologica De La Comunidad Valenciana and the wine is considered of the Alicante D.O.

Laudum Nature is a deep cherry red wine and can be found very inexpensively in the wine sections of El Cort Ingles stores (2.99/bottle). The town of Petrer is just over twenty miles northwest of the sun-drenched city of Alicante, and almost ninety miles southwest of Valencia city. You can visit the winery by appointment. Bodegas Bocopa, Paraje Les Pedreres Autovia A-31, Km 200-201 (Elda Hospital exit), 03610 Petrer (Alicante); Tel: 966 950 489; Email:; Web: The store and office are open Monday to Thursday from 9:00 am to 2:00pm/4:00 to 7:30 pm, Friday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Envinarte - An Artful Wine Store in Valencia Spain

At the artfully stocked wine store, Envinarte, you will find lovely and passionate owner, Teresa Almeida. Teresa knows the history and taste of every wine in her store. She eloquently talks about her wine philosophy (in either Spanish or English). She is deeply aware of the enormous amount of work and spirit that goes into winemaking. She never says she doesn’t like a wine, but rather looks at wines as if they are art – which she believes they are.

Art and wine are subjective and so a person’s response to a wine is individual and depends on the moment in which they are experiencing it. Teresa discusses wines not in terms of liking or disliking, but rather what wines she finds interesting and compelling, understanding that these might change for her depending upon vintage and when and where she is tasting the wine.

Envinarte sells both organic and conventional wines, with an emphasis on Spanish brands. It is a lovely little store in the old part of Valencia near the Plaza de Virgen and up the street from the Serranos Towers (Torres de Serranos), remnants of Valencia’s old walled city. Envinarte, c/ Serranos 6, 46003 Valencia; Tel: 963 913 930;; open Monday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 2:30 om/5:30 to 9:00 pm.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Natural Wines in Paris

If you are in Paris and don’t have time for wine tours out amidst the vineyards and Chateaus, take heart as you have numerous options for sampling wines right in the city of lights and love.

The small, atmospheric La Cremerie between Boulevard St. Germain and the Luxembourg Gardens is a wine store and bar specializing in natural and local French wines. Housed in an old 1880 creamery - hence the name - it has been a wine store for sixty years. La Cremerie, 9, rue des Quatre Vents, 75006 Paris; Tel: 01 43 549 930; Web site:; Metro: Odeon; open Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 am to 10:00 pm with special times for tastings.

More Than Organic, a site dedicated to information about natural wines from France including history, laws and distinctions, has links to what they consider to be the best Cavistes in Paris specializing in natural wines - so carry on in Paris with interesting natural wines at your fingertips.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pago Gran Casa - Organic and Natural in Moixant

Located in what is referred to as the Tuscany of Valencia, Pago Casa Gran is a beautiful, organic vineyard with about 250 acres of grapes, as well as olive and apricot trees. Owned by the Laso Galbis family for decades, the vineyard is hundreds of years old, with ruins of an old winery on part of the property. Today while the grapes are tended to in natural and traditional ways, including manual harvesting, the winery is modern and state of the art.

Pago Gran Casa makes their wines in the most natural way possible in favor of the flavor and quality of the wines. They use gravity not pumps to move and mix the wines. It helps that the owner is an engineer and has cleverly designed the winery with innovative equipment.

Native yeasts and a mix of local and foreign grape varieties – Garnacha/Grenache, Monastrell, Moscatel, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Gewürztraminer – are used to make the wines. Pago Gran Casa makes three red wines (vino tinto), Reposo, Falcata Casa Gran, and Falacat Arenal, and two white wines both called Reposo.

You can visit the vineyard and winery but you must make an appointment in advance and visits are only offered on Saturdays from 9:00 am  to 2:00 pm.

Pago Casa Gran, Carretera Mogente a Fontanares Km 9,45, 46640 Mogente/Moixent (Valencia); Tel: 962 261 004; Email:; Web:

Monday, December 7, 2009

Climate Change Even Impacts Wine

In one of their many campaigns highlighting the deleterious effects of climate change, Greenpeace France is bringing the message home to lovers of wine – by showing the effects of climate change on the precious French wine industry.

French winemakers have been observing warmer temperatures, translating to earlier harvest times, and sweeter, less acidic grapes, which all affect the final product. For a downloadable PDF version of the Greenpeace report on Climate Change Impacts on French Viticulture go to and then choose: changementsclimatiquesimpactsviticulturefrance (please note: the report is in French).

The Greenpeace campaign was highlighted at the recent Paris Independent Winemakers Fair (Salon des Vignerons Independents) held twice a year in late November and March, where over 1000 French independent vintners display their wares – a mere 6 euros gains you entry to this wine extravaganza. If you can’t make it to Paris, but want to experience the wine fair there are also events in other cities during other months – Rennes end of January, Strasbourg mid February, Lyon early March, Bordeaux mid March, and then Paris again at the end of March. Website for the Vignerons Independents can be found at:

Some of the independent vintners work with conventional grapes, others with organic. France has a dedicated and growing organic viticulture movement, with currently over 68,000 acres in organic grape production and an additional almost 33,000 acres in transition to organic. Wine industry professionals can learn more about these organic vineyards and wines at the “world trade fair” for organic wines, Millésime Bio.

The seventeenth annual Millésime Bio will be held January 25-27, 2010 in Montpellier, France. This is where wine buyers from around the world can sample a variety of organic wines in one place. Most of the wines – about 75% - are from France, with the remaining 25% from around the world with the greatest representation from Spain and Italy, with one or two samplings each from South Africa, Germany, Argentina, Chile, Egypt, Romania Switzerland and the USA.

It would be a tragedy if France, or other countries, were no longer able to produce wonderful varieties of wines due to rising temperatures and other climate changes. Help keep the environmental impact of viticulture low by consuming and supporting organic vineyards and wineries - there are plenty and more available every day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chozas Carrascal Organic Pago in Requena Spain

The Chozas Carrascal winery is in the tradition of a Pago (the Spanish version of a French Chateau) with an old traditional house built in 1880, and a newly built winery, cave and tasting room adjacent, surrounded by almost one hundred acres of organic vineyards in the Utiel-Requena D.O.

The vines at Chozas Carrascal are big bush vines that are also trellised (usually vineyards use either bush vines or trellised vines). They were the first to bring this practice to the area in 1992 - it allows the plant density to be increased two-fold, ideal for a vineyard focusing on low yield but high quality.

The vineyard combines a variety of grapes, both native and foreign. The grape varieties grown are eight red and three white: Bobal, Monastrell, Tempranillo, Garnacha (Spanish for Grenache), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Macabeo.

Delightful and informative Xesco, the master winemaker at Chozas uses innovative winemaking techniques to produce the nine signature wines of Chozas Carrascal including their own delicious Cava, produced the same way as Champagne with a second fermentation in the bottle, but due to the politics of the wine market, only Champagne from Champagne can be called such – it is often thought as a generic term for sparkling wine, but in fact it is closer to a brand name and can only be afforded to sparking wines from the Champagne region of France. Chozas Cava is delicious and a bargain at 11 euros a bottle.

Most of the Chozas wines are blends of the grape varieties with the exception of El Dulce made with only Garnacha and the Cabernet Franc made solely from Cabernet Franc. Seasoned wine drinkers will know that Cabernet Sauvignon, a very popular red wine and grape was developed by crossbreeding the white Sauvignon Blanc with the “black” Cabernet Franc. The less trendy pure Cabernet Franc makes for a delicious, dry, deep wine.

All the wines are fermented in traditional vats – the reds in concrete and the whites in stainless steel- and then aged in French oak barrels. Produced ecologically from the start, Chozas wines will all be fully certified organic as of 2010.

Chozas Carrascal makes for a wonderful visit. They have a magnificent tasting room, and the vineyards are impressive – and all part of the tour.

Chozas Carrascal, San Antonio, Requena, (Valencia); Tel: 963 410 395; Email:; Web:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Aranleon - Organic Wine from Los Marcos Spain

Dating from 1927, the old, white tile-lined winery is still in use at the bright Bodega Aranleon. A modern cave and wine tasting addition has been added inconspicuously to the original building. The grapes - native Bobal, Tempranillo, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon - are all organically grown on close to one hundred acres, and they have been fully certified since 2007. Aged in Hungarian, French and North American oak barrels, Aranleon handcrafts three signature red wines from their own organic grapes - Solo, El Arbol Blanco, and Seleccion - as well as offering some wines made for them at other wineries. Do not be mislead by the name of El Arbol Blanco- while it means The White Tree, it is indeed a red wine. Tolkien fans will recognize the reference to the White Tree of Gondor from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

They also offer a special wine called Junts, made in cooperation with a total of eight wineries in the Valencia region. The proceeds from this wine, the most expensive one they sell at 18 euros a bottle, go to support aid work in India. The Junts label says it is “40% Solidaridad, 40% Ilusion, and 20% Amistad.” Translated this means 40% Solidarity, 40% Hope, 20% Friendship.

In addition to the Junts wine, much at Aranleon seems to be done with a big heart and with a dedication to community. The winery has been designed to be fully accessible for anyone with disabilities, and the crowning touch is that their labels are printed in Braille in addition to regular type. The employees are appreciated and acknowledged for their contributions and from all accounts it is a business run in a warm and spirited fashion.

The three Aranleon signature wines are from the D.O. of Utiel-Requena. You can find Aranleon in the town of Los Marcos, southwest of Utiel and about 100 kilometers due west of Valencia city. Aranleon wines offer incredible value as their prices range from 5 to 18 euros and all are delightful. Aranleon is definitely worth a visit if you are traveling in the Valencia area – stop by their lovely tasting room and try any of their delicious wines.
Bodega Aranleon, Ctra. De Caudete s/n, 46310 Los Marcos (Valencia); Tel: 902 023 069; Email:; Web site:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Late Breaking Information - How to Open a Wine Bottle with Your Shoe!

I had to add this link to the wine blog as it is really quite amazing how the man in the video opens a bottle of wine with his shoe since there is no available cork screw on the street... and of course he is French!

I would try with great caution if you want to attempt this a home, and maybe try it with a shoe you don't really care about.

Organic Wine from the Sandy Vineyard in San Juan

Dominio del Arenal is in San Juan, Spain in the wine-making region of Utiel-Requena, and is situated half way between those two towns about one hour due west of Valencia city. The vineyard is fifty miles from the sea and sits twenty six hundred feet above sea level by the river Magro. Arenal means sand in Spanish and the vineyard gets its name from when tons of sand was imported to the vineyard to successfully fight phylloxera, an aphid-like grapevine blight that spread through Europe in the early 1900s.

Dominio del Arenal makes eight red wines using Shiraz, Bobal and Tempranillo grapes, and one white wine made with Macabeo grapes. All the grapes are manually harvested.

Cerrado del Espino is the organic wine from Dominio del Arenal made with 100% Tempranillo grapes. Cerrado del Espino, a delicious, black cherry colored wine, is smooth and dry. Cerrado del Espino is certified organic by the Comite d’Agricultura Ecologica de la Comunitat Valenciana.

Unlike many Spanish vineyards, the Website of Dominio del Arenal is available in English so you can easily read about their wines in more depth. Dominio del Arenal, 46390 San Juan (Requena); Tel: 962 320 001; Email: info@; Web:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Biodynamic Chenin Blanc in the Pays de la Loire

Biodynamic farming is based on the agricultural philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, father of anthroposophy and Waldorf-Steiner education. While biodynamic farming includes organic farm management practices, i.e., not utilizing synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, it also uses specially prepared, natural treatments, incorporating natural rhythms and cycles of the moon and sun, light and warmth. See the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association Website for more detailed information about biodynamic agriculture.

As with the Denominacion de Origin in Spain, France has the Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC), a French certification granted to wines and other agricultural products.

In Faye D’Anjou in the Pays de la Loire region of France you can find close to fifteen acres planted with vines of Chenin Blanc grapes tended organically and biodynamically at Domaine de Juchepie.

The vineyard was created in 1986 and is recognized under the Appellation Coteaux du Layon-Faye. The vines are forty years old on average with the oldest dating from 1911. Organic since 1994, harvesting is done by hand, and the wine is fermented without adding sugar or yeast.

They make mostly sweet wines, with the exception of "J" The Sec Juchepie Appellation Anjou dry, made from 100% Chenin Blanc. Their Quarter Juchepie, Churelles, and Quintessence are sweet wines. The Passion is a dessert wine. They do not enter their wines into competitions. The wines are available in Belgium, Germany, Netherlands where there is a good demand for biodynamic products. Otherwise the only way to buy them is to go to the vineyard, but call or email first to make an appointment.

Domaine de Juchepie, Les Quarts, 49380 Faye D’Anjou; Tel: 02 4154 3347; Email:; Web:

See the Green Earth Guides~Traveling Naturally post about a vegetarian bed & breakfast and other sites an hour or so from this vineyard.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Trois Terres - Award Winning Organic Wine from France

Trois Terres is a small organic vineyard in Octon, due west of Montpellier in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. The vines are in nine different plots totaling almost ten acres.

Graeme and Alice Angus started the vineyard ten years ago to fulfill a dream of producing delicious wines. Graeme is a part-time doctor, Alice is an agricultural economist.

Trois Terres, produces two red wines employing Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault grapes. La Minérale is a wine made mostly with Syrah with up to twenty percent Grenache. Trois Terres is somewhat the opposite, being made predominantly with Grenache with up to thirty percent Syrah.

While they have a tractor for plowing weeds, most of the vineyard work is done by hand. The vineyard has practiced organic farming methods since its inception, but only started the process of becoming certified a year ago, so while organic, the wines do not yet carry the French AB - Agriculture Biologique certification logo on their labels. They will be fully certified in 2012.

The wines have won distinguished awards, the most recent being one of the gold medals at the International Wine Challenge 2009 for the Trois Terres Grenache.  This wine also won a gold medal in 2007. Both achievements are considered particularly notable as the Angus’ are British, but make French wine in France -- something the French are trying to adjust to.

All bottles regardless of vintage sell for 9 euros and magnums are 20 euros. Currently you can only buy the wine at the vineyard or at a few select stores and restaurants in the area including in Clermont L’Herault about a twenty-minute drive from Octon and due west of Montpellier. Repounchou, a shop in the village of Octon, sells the wine as well.

Trois Terres, Rue de la Vialle, 34800 Octon; Tel: 04 67 44 71 22; Mobile: 06 15 16 92 68; Email :; Web:

Trois Terres is open Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday: from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm; Saturday from 3:00 to 6:00 pm or any other days by appointment.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bodegas Cueva Artisanal Organic Wines

The Utiel-Requena area and Denomination of Origin for wine is about one hour due west of Valencia city. Known for its native Bobal grapes, the area has a long history of viticulture dating back over 2000 years. Today almost 100,000 acres are in grape production with over one hundred registered bodegas (wineries) of which seven are certified organic.

One of these is Bodegas Cueva, a small organic winery priding itself on its artisanal wines. Grape varieties used are the local Bobal, as well as Tempranillo and Garnacha. Cueva is housed in a well-preserved 18th century winery that is under renovation to better accommodate tastings, as well as workshops the Bodega plans to offer on wine-making.

Cueva currently offers two red, dry wines, Cueva Selección de Finca and Barrica Selección.

The head of wine production is musician, Mariano Taberner, who plays music to the wine to make it happy and delicious. Passionate Adela Hernandez is in charge of promotion and sales. You can find Bodegas Cueva in the town of La Portera just south of the town of Requena.

Bodegas Cueva. Calle Mayor, 2, La Portera, 46357, Requena (Valencia); Tel 963 931 827; Email:; Web site:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Organic Wine from Las Bodegas Los Frailes

Las Bodegas Los Frailes, meaning winery of the Friar House, is a family run, organic vineyard covering three hundred and twenty acres in the Els Alforins valley two thousand feet above sea level in Fontaners dels Alforins in the Valencia region of Spain, almost fifty miles from the Mediterranean.

Hundreds of years ago the property belonged to Jesuit friars hence the name. In 1767 the Spanish monarchy in an effort to control the wealth and power of the Catholic Church evicted the Jesuits and confiscated property. This vineyard met with that fate and was auctioned off and purchased by the Velazquez family who have been making wine there ever since.

Considered a Pago (a winery that makes wine solely from its own vineyards surrounding the main house like a French château), Bodegas Los Frailes controls the process from soil to grape to winery to bottle. While the property still has the original 18th century wine cellar, it also has a new state of the art cellar as well as a winery covering over 100,000 square feet.

Over half the vineyard is planted with Monastrell grapes and the remaining vines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Marselan, Shiraz and Garnacha. These grapes produce seven red wines (vino tinto in Spanish) for the Bodegas Los Frailes. The Monastrell variety is in every bottle of Los Frailes wines. The name of the variety derives from the Latin meaning Monastery People. It is conducive to dry climates and is traditional to the Els Alforins valley. The yeasts used in the wine-making are indigenous to the valley as well.

The vineyard has been organic since 1999. Delightful, energetic and passionate Miguel Velazquez is in the process of taking the vineyard to what he considers to be the next logical step -- managing the vineyard with biodynamic farming practices. Los Frailes has won numerous awards for its wines including from the prestigious Biofach and Millesime Bio organic trade fairs.

Los Frailes welcomes visitors so plan a trip to this fertile, organic valley for some delicious wines and beautiful scenery.

I have tasted two of the Los Frailes wines: Bilogia is a 50-50 blend of Monastrell and Tempranillo grapes, which to my unsophisticated taste buds has distinct currant tones and a delicious dry quality. Trilogia contains 70% Monastrell, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Tempranillo and while sharing qualities with Bilogia, Trilogia is what I would call a deeper wine.

Bodegas Los Frailes, Fontanars dels Alforins, 46635 (Valencia) Spain; Tel: 963 339 845; Email:; Web site:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wines of Spain and Valencia

Like their food, Spain seems to be overlooked when it comes to their wealth of wine, which is not only delicious but incredibly inexpensive to down right dirt cheap. There are any number of wine regions in Spain, the most known are La Rioja and Navarra, but most regions of Spain produce wines and, like their olive oils, each has their own attributes and qualities.

The Wines from Spain Web site, a department of the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade, is a great starting point to get acquainted with the regions and sixty-seven “Denominations of Origin” which distinguish regional wines. You can search for many Spanish wines at this site, but it is not a site for ecological wines and doesn’t include some of the ones I know of in their database. However, it is useful for basic information and worth exploring. The map at left is from their site and I highly recommend viewing the map in its full size glory. You will find the map under “Search and Find” > “Quality wines” > click on the PDF “Quality Wines (V.C.P.R.D) map” to download.

While I am on maps and basic information, another excellent map source can be found at De Long’s Wine Info web site where they sell wine maps – one of the Iberian Peninsula, and one of California with Italy and France in the works. The Iberian Peninsula Wine Map is detailed and includes some information into France and Morocco. It sells for $29.95 plus shipping.

Since I am currently in Valencia, I will start with wines from this region. John Maher has developed an informative blog dedicated to the wines of the Valencian region as he found they were largely overlooked even here in Spain. John’s blog can be found at, and he published a detailed book on the subject called, Valencia: Land of Wine, by Joan Martin, a compendium of articles originally published in the El Pais newspaper, and translated into English for this volume.

Vino Valencia is another excellent resource. They hold monthly wine “events”, which they prefer to simply tastings as they feel that the social element is as crucial to the enjoyment of wine as taste. At their web site you can see dates for their “events” as well as a wonderful list of wines and wine stores in the area. While they cover all wines, they definitely have a soft spot for organic varieties. At the last event, two of the three featured wines were organic.

As John Maher explains on his site, “Pago” is the term used for a winery that makes wine solely from its own vineyards in the immediate vicinity of the main house, like a French château. A number of the local organic vineyards are just this and I will share information about three of them in upcoming posts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Welcome to the Inaugural Eco Wine Post

Traveling in Spain and Europe for the year I am discovering wonderful organic and biodynamic vinters -- too fabulous to keep to myself and too numerous to include in my guide books, so I am offering this new blog as a way to start to share this information with the hopes of spreading the good word about these vineyards, as well as offering links and resources about ecological wines.

Cheers! Salud! Zum Wohl! Salut! Proost! Salute! L'chaim! Sláinte! Sante!