CORVEZZO on 12-01-2018
The Organic Prosecco blog: does organic wines taste better?
It is known that organic farming has a lower environmental impact and produces healthier wines for the consumers. But, overall, are these wines actually better, worse or equal to conventional ones?
As far as I am concerned, I have one point: since my Prosecco has become organic it is no longer its older self.
Organic conversion modifies the organoleptic profile of a wine
I must admit to I have always found declarations such "since this Prosecco is organic it has to be better (or worse) than this conventional one" completely pointless. The organoleptic profile of a wine originates from a thousand factors that, in different percentages, contribute to exaltate or penalize it.
What makes a wine good, mediocre or bad?
The terroir, that is the environment in which the grape is cultivated, is the real director behind the making of a wine. The terroir decides the soil composition, pendency, if it rains or the sun shines, whether there will be warm temperatures or cold ones. This explains why the same grape variety, when cultivated in a different areas of the planet, results in wines that are extremely different one another.
What is our role then?
With our work in the vineyard and in the winery, we are the protagonists of the script the terroir has written: our job is to interpretate nature's hints and transmit them as well as possible to the final product. We sometime succeed, sometimes don't, sometimes the script is just too difficult to read.
However, we were focusing on a much less general issue.
The question is: can we say that, comparing the same grape variety, environmental conditions and winemaking knowhow, organic grapes have the potentiality of becoming better wines?
Maybe is still too early to be able to answer in absolute terms, but within my own experience I can say that the Prosecco grapes I produce in the last few year have been yielding far better results, and they are finally able to fully express thir aromatic features.
1 - Organic grapes develop a thicker skin
As I have explained a while ago, once the organic conversion begins the vineyard needs time to become stronger and to get used to living without the the aid of pesticides and weed killers.
The most noticeable result of this process is that, year after year, the organic grapes skin becomes thicker. The skin contains all the aromatic features and during fermentation releases them into the wine developing the most ample range of aromas (those having sommeliers, bloggers and wine lovers arguing).
A thicker skin, thus shows a better resistance to parasites and moisture and allows us to extract a higher quantity of aromatic substances during fermentation, with clear benefits to the final product.
2 - Organic grapes reach a more balanced ripening
Another aspect that can explain the quality improvement of our organic Prosecco after conversion is that the grapes reach ripening in a more balanced environment.
Economic urges after World War II have pushed farmers to "dope" their cultivations with chemical fertilizers to obtain higher yields. The idea that has rooted in the conventional agriculture after this period is: if it is true that plants bring to the fruit everything they find in the soil, let's say it corresponds to 90, I provide what lacks to get to 100 with chemical fertilizers (and if we can get to 110, it's even better).
Nonetheless, this "doping" practice, which undoubtedly ensures heavier grapes and therefore higher production, also brings an inevitable loss of quality.
I believe that farmers should evolve and become a proper trainer for the vine.
Getting rid of all chemical fertilizers and replacing them with organic fertilizers and silly plowing, enables the vine to become stronger and extract from the soil only what it really needs.
The produced quantity could be less constant or even lower than conventional production, but the grapes quality will sensibly improve year after year.
A US research seems to confirm our hypothesis: organic wines are better than average
A study from the University of California has analyzed the rankings assigned to 74.148 labels between 1998 and 2004 by the three major wine magazines in the US (Wine Advocate, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator). The researchers have found that organic wines obtain 4.1/100 points more in average with respect to their conventional competitors.
The reasons behind this success are, according to the researchers, quite similar to those we experienced.
The complete lack of pesticides, weed killers and chemical fertilizers allows the vineyard to better express the terroir personality.
! IMPORTANT NOTE!
This cannot be deemed proof that organic wines are the best ever!!! (but my degree in economics means I'm inevitably drawn to statistics and figures :) )
Verdict: Are organic wines better than conventional ones or not?
I firmly believe that organic wines have the potentiality to be better than conventional ones for many reasons.
However, I ask you not to believe me.
Your personal experience in the wine world will show you the way towards the answer way better than this blog (if an answer exists). I hope I have been able to give you a couple of hints more to base your judgement on the next time you'll taste an Organic Prosecco or another wine.
Go and try for yourself!