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.