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Go Organic For Christmas

December 11, 2017

Food & Drink | by Wayne Noir

Christmas is all about indulging in food and drink and spending time with your friends and family. Turkey is still the most popular choice at Christmas and it goes equally well with both white and red wines. Organic turkeys tend to be breeds that are slower growing and more robust. This puts less strain on the birds and allows them to develop in a truly free-range environment. Their life is usually almost twice as long as that of an intensively reared bird, which can mean a more flavoursome turkey. As turkey is lean and normally combined with roast potatoes, stuffing and gravy, it can be a salty and heavy meal. The best bet is to go for a fruity, low-tannin wine with a little acidity to be able to cut right through all the flavours of the food and create a balanced palate. John, wine and spirit advisor at vintage roots recommends the following five wines, which go just as well with nut roasts for vegetarians or vegans.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

For whites, the classic option would be a French Chardonnay such as their Macon-Villages from Domaine de la Verpaille, which is a beautiful un-oaked wine from the Burgundy region made from hundred-year-old vines. It has aromas of pear, white flowers, lemon and a soft, creamy palate. But of course, there is no reason why  you can’t go for ‘New World’ Chardonnay. Chile, Australia and New Zealand are all making excellent Chardonnays these days, often indistinguishable from their French counterparts.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

For red wines, Pinot Noir (my personal favourite – it also has my name on it) is the grape to look for. Traditionalists would opt for a red Burgundy – such as Michel Magnien’s Coteaux Bourguignons, a biodynamic wine produced by Michel Magnien, one of the region’s most progressive winemakers. This superb vintage has crisp, red fruit flavours and a velvety, elegant mouth feel – but if you want something a little more modern, New World wines like John’s favourite; the Adobe Pinot Noir Reserva, which has classic Pinot raspberry aromas with a subtle hint of vanilla and soft tannins.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

Dessert wines aren’t really my thing, but here are some under-appreciated delicacies that are much more versatile than the category suggests. Try a Sauternes, such as the Château Dudon, 2013 – its classic blend is a beautiful concentrate with rich and deep honey flavours – the perfect starter alongside pâté or to finish with a cheese board or sweet desserts such as a sticky yule log or meringue. We all love a good cheese board after a meal,  but creme brûlée will always come first.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

So Why choose Organic in the first place?

Choosing organic means choosing food as it should be. Whatever you’re buying, when you choose organic, you choose products that have been produced to the highest of standards. Organic food must be certified by law, so you can be assured that the product and ingredients come from verified sources. The Soil Association Certification certifies over 70% of organic food in the UK, and all organic businesses are inspected at least once a year (no bugs or chemicals hiding there). It is the most rigorous of any independent food standard audit process, so the organic label is the best way of assuring that the food you eat has been produced to a standard you can trust. Organic always means fewer pesticides, no artificial additives or preservatives, some of the highest standards of animal welfare and no GM ingredients and it’s good for our environment.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

Organic wine is a great option for the Christmas table or even as a gift. I prefer red with a rich cheddar after being stuffed (excuse the pun) so Soil Association-certified winemakers work with nature, rather than against it. They use techniques that can help increase biodiversity from their vineyards including ‘cover crops’, which are used between the vines to attract beneficial insects that are the natural enemy of the problem species who eat the grapes. This technique works as a self-regulating ecosystem for the vineyard and helps to protect the crops in a natural way – one that means organic wines can be made without reliance on synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. Also, no herbicides, including glyphosate, are permitted in organic wine production. Organic wines also have lower levels of sulphur dioxide – an additive commonly used in wine that some people can have an allergy or intolerance to, causing headaches and other unwanted symptoms. Soil Association-certified organic wines go that step further by not only limiting the amount of sulphur that can be added to wine, but also the levels of so-called ‘free’ sulphur dioxide that are left in the bottle after the winemaking process.

As with all organic produce, be it food or drink, choosing a product is all down to personal taste and preference at the end of the day. There are now dozens of organic wines on the market that vary in terms of depth, complexity and flavour profiles, offering something for everyone this festive season.

My personal favourites:

Giol Prosecco Frizzante Bianco IGT Veneto from Vintage Roots

Since 1986, Vintage Roots have been the UK’s leading supplier of organic and biodynamic wines and drinks. This bottle is truly a winner all round, with a sweet, fruity and semi-sparkling finish. Sparkling wine is vinous shorthand for a celebration, and this beautiful bottle is great fun, great value and suitable for all.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

Limney Estate 2013, White from Davenport

This white sparkling boasts notes of ripe apple and citrus fruits with a dry finish and a long-lasting flavour. It spends three years maturing in the Davenport cellar to achieve the complex, developed and yeasty aromas specific to their flagship wines. This is a bottle that tastes delicious to drink now, or could be cellared for several years making it the perfect gift for any budding wine connoisseur.

2016 Ortega Wine from Forty Hall Vineyard

This mouth-watering wine has notes of apricot and white peach, which is clean and fresh on the palate creating a smooth, dry white with a long finish. The perfect bottle for any white wine lovers.

Stellar Merlot, no added Sulphur from Vintage Roots 

Another incredible organic wine from Vintage Roots comes in the form of this deep red Merlot. Ripe on the nose with hints of jasmine and dark perfume, with well-structured tannins from post-ferment maceration and no added Sulphur makes this wine a delight from start to finish.

Diamond Fields Pinot Noir, 2016 by Davenport

An English organic Pinot Noir at its finest. This 2016 was grown on south-facing sandy clay soil and then matured in old oak barriques for nine months before bottling. It has great depth and complexity with flavours of oak and blackberry. Keep for up to three years and watch it mellow and mature or enjoy fresh and young.

Candid Magazine Organic Christmas

More on the Soil Association

The Soil Association was founded in 1946 by farmers, scientists, doctors and nutritionists to promote the connection between the health of the soil, food, animals, people and the environment. Today the Soil Association is the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.

Soil Association Certification is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Soil Association which certifies over 70% of all organic products sold in the UK. Certifying organic food and farming since 1973, and more recently, organic textiles, health and beauty products, the team has built up extensive practical experience and provides unrivalled support before, during and after certification. It also audits other schemes within catering and forestry, including the Food for Life Served Here, and the FSC and PEFC forestry standards internationally, delivering assurances of quality and provenance that industry and consumers can trust.

To tie in with the festive season, the Soil Association have launched their online Organic Collective Christmas Marketplace. The hub is the ultimate online one-stop location for fresh and festive ways to find, try, and buy organic food this Christmas. Click here for more information.

Enjoy the Christmas season, and try something different this year.

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