Over the last several months, I have reviewed a couple dozen Sustainability in Practice (SIP) Certified wines. In short, Sip Certification means that the vineyard’s practices ensure the sustainability of the vineyard environmentally speaking, but also employs methods that provide sustenance for those who work in the vineyard.
I have also taken those articles as opportunities to point out THREE relatively easy additional steps that wineries should take that could have an immediate impact on the climate change crisis without really changing the wine tasting experience at all.
- Wineries need to be at the forefront in combatting the climate crisis and continually state that climate change is a real and dangerous phenomenon, which has been caused by humans. I really find it mind-boggling that this first issue is still needed, but there are far too many (particularly on the right) who want us all to believe it is a hoax. It’s not and wineries should be leading the charge–they see the evidence more clearly than almost anyone.
- Big Ass Bottles (B.A.B.) serve absolutely no purpose and should stop being used immediately. If you need a wasteful, heavy bottle to convince the consumer your wine is “high quality” not only should you stop using the bottles, but you should fire whomever is in charge of marketing.
- Styrofoam shipping containers need to die a quick death. I know, shipping wine directly to consumers is wasteful, but until we find a better solution to the Three-Tier System, getting rid of styrofoam is an easy band-aid–there are other options that are friendlier to the environment.
- Get rid of the foil. The foil that adorns nearly every bottle of wine once served a purpose (it prevented rodents and other vermin from eating the cork), but now it’s really just another form of waste.
There you have it, four easy steps that wineries could really implement immediately. While they will not “solve” our long international nightmare, they would be a great step in the right direction. Here are a few wines from producers that seem to “get it” (with fervent shakes of the head at McIntyre and Roar).
2017 Bishop’s Peak (Talley Vineyards) Chardonnay San Luis Obispo County, CA: Retail $24. Under screw. Great tropical notes, a bit of citrus, and just a hint of vanilla in the glass. Great tartness and freshness with considerable minerality. While the Anything But Chardonnay crew might eschew this out of principle, it certainly has merits that would encourage those dissidents to reconsider. Bright, tart, and nowhere near oaky, this is a stellar wine at a more than reasonable price. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2017 Castoro Cellars Albariño Double Black Vineyards, Paso Robles, CA: Retail $22. While there is still not a ton of Albariño made in this country, there is certainly more of it every year. This effort by Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles is a fine rendition. Golden in the glass with stone fruit and minerality on the nose with good fruit, oodles of acidity, but a bit short on the mid-palate. It finishes fairly strongly, as the fruit lingers for a good minute. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Halter Ranch Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles, Adelaida District, CA: Retail $34. 77% Grenache Blanc, 15% Picpoul Blanc, 8% Viognier. Under Screw. SIP Certified. I can say without much hesitation that there is not enough Grenache Blanc in the world. Sure, there are Old World regions where one finds the variety, but it is most often blended with other warm-climate grapes; rarely does it stand alone. And that is a shame for it is typically fruity, tart, lively, and down-right fun, as is the case here. Lemon, lime, minerality, gravitas. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2015 McIntyre Vineyards Per Ardua, Arroyo Seco, CA: Retail $60. Merlot Blend. I looked, I searched, I Googled, I even Binged (OK, the last one is a lie), but I could not find anything more than “Merlot Blend” for this wine. Ugh. I also am more than slightly miffed by the bottle in which this wine is housed. It is big. It is heavy (a B.A.B.). It serves no purpose. And it is stupid. How this is still considered “Sustainable” is a concern I raised with the SIP Certified people. Hopefully, they will address it. As for the wine, it is quite tasty. Fruity (dark berries), mocha, black pepper, and a hint of bell pepper (is there any Cab Franc in the blend?). The palate is fruity and balanced with a nice tartness, depth, and finish. But that bottle. Ugh. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2018 Record Family Wines Viognier, Paso Robles, CA: Retail $25. Under screw. Viognier is a funny variety. Done well, it is delightful and memorable. Done poorly, it can be pungent and off-putting. This is clearly in the former camp: fruity and floral with citrus, hyacinth, and white rose. Delightful on the palate as well: tart, yet perfumed, balanced, fruity. Wonderful. Very Good to Excellent. 89-91 Points.
2017 Roar Chardonnay, Santa Lucia Highlands, CA: Retail $35. Another Big Ass Bottle (ugh). Certainly one of the more critically acclaimed producers in the Santa Lucia Highlands from one of the leading wine growers there, Gary Franscioni. Golden in color with lemon curd, pineapple, and a hint of oak. On the palate, quite rich with lemon custard, pear, and subtle tartness. This is more of an old-style California Chard, but it is far from an oak bomb or cougar juice, more lovely and lithe than tart and tangy, which suits me just fine. Excellent. 91-93 Points.