Back in July, I decided to experiment for a while and buy only wines made from organic, biodynamic or sustainably farmed grapes. In theory, this shouldn't be difficult. Hundreds of U.S. vineyards and wineries are certified or in transition, and many more internationally. And I'm including properties that I can verify are committed to sustainability even though certification may not be an option for them yet.
But finding the wines still takes some effort, even if you've memorized dozens of "green" brands. They're often not clearly labeled on retail shelves or restaurant wine lists, and I've had to hunt across many spots to find enough variety. On a visit to one chain, to check out the value end of eco-friendliness, I found very prominent shelf labels but only a couple unfamiliar brands and the big guns of Fetzer and Bonterra, early adopters of sustainable farming with the distribution muscle of a large corporation.
The Bonterra Syrah 2006, made from certified organic grapes (actually, two-thirds of the grapes were certified biodynamic), was the priciest at $17. But it's a solid, well-made wine, with good depth to its blackberry and black plum fruit, supple texture and a peppery finish that picked up hints of oak spice from 18 months of barrel aging. 87 points, non-blind, and a nice foil to a steak dinner.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Bonterra Syrah Mendocino County 2006 (88, $15).
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