Earth Day is next Wednesday, a day that I usually do not “celebrate.” It is not due to an inherent animosity to “green.” Quite the opposite, while I had been hugged quite a bit as a child (I was particularly adorable, apparently), the first item I hugged might well have been a tree. And while I support completely most (all?) of the aims of Earth Day, I just find it depressing.
Why does the Earth get only one day? Put another way, why do we need to focus attention on the earth? Protecting where we live should be as natural as protecting our families, our homes, our property (if “Stand Your Ground” laws applied to litterers, I would definitely pack heat on my bike rides and open up on people who flick cigarette butts out of their car windows).
One positive coming out of this pandemic seems to be that pollution is down, even way down. The fear, apparently, is that once the world starts “ramping up” the economy once again, that pollution will be even worse as all the various economies try to make up for lost time.
Hopefully, there will be a few industries out there that realize their workers can be as, if not more, efficient if at least some of the required work is performed at home. For the sake of the planet, I sure hope so, but I am not holding my breath.
In honor of Earth Day, here are a few wines that are headed in the right direction at least.
NV Leclerc Briant Champagne Brut Réserve, France: Retail $52. 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier, 20% Chardonnay. Leclerc Briant has been organic since the 1960s and fifth-generation Pascal Leclerc has been biodynamic since 1988. The dosage (amount of sugar added) is only 4 grams/liter so this wine comes off as decidedly dry, barely above a Brut Sauvage. Slightly golden in the glass with hints of citrus and oodles of brioche (20% is aged in neutral oak–which is, sadly, increasingly rare in Champagne). The palate is fruity, tart, lively, and deep. This is my first experience with this house, and hopefully not the last. The next time I am in Epernay, I will certainly visit (if they will have me, which is at best a maybe). Excellent. 91-93 Points.
2018 Loimer Grüner Veltliner Lois, Kamptal, Austria: Retail $19. Under screw. Biodynamic since 2006. Lois rhymes with “choice” and comes from Langenlois, the town which put Grüner on the map, so to speak. Pale in the glass with a slight green tint, this is classic Grüner from start to finish. Citrus and green apple on the nose with a steely minerality. The palate is quite linear, tart and tangy, with good fruit and a decent finish. Grüner. Giddy-up. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.
2017 Michel Magnien Bourgogne, France: Retail $36. 100% Pinot Noir. Biodynamic. I am fairly certain that this is the first Burgundy I have received as a sample, which is understandable: Burgundy is scarce (and therefore expensive) and I am just a blip on the radar (if I am lucky). So I opened this bottle with more than a modicum of trepidation: why did they send this to me? Well, no need to worry as this is delightful. Sure, it is not as deep or as nuanced as a Premier or Grand Cru, but those usually take at least a handful of years until they are approachable. This is fruity (it is a Burgundy, after all) with black cherry, a bit of spice, and earth (it is a Burgundy, after all). The palate is tart, a bit tight, but also to the point–this is not a Russian River fruit explosion. A lovely Burgundy with a modern approach–more fruit, delicate tannins. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2014 Di Majo Norante Molise Ramitello, Italy: Retail $18. 85% Montepulciano, 15% Aglianico. Organic. Molise is a wine region of which most have likely never heard. Once a part of the better-known Abruzzo region to the north, it has only been “independent” in the last 50 years or so ago. Inky dark in the glass (as Anglianico tends to render a wine), with dark fruit: plum, blackberry, cassis. A bit austere, but with some muted fruit, plenty of acidity, and quite a bit of tannin on the finish. This seems to be a fairly good marriage between the two varieties: Montepulciano fruity and fun, Aglianico big, muscular and brooding. While at a severe deficit, it seems the latter dominates. Decant, get some beef, enjoy. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
2016 Valdipiatta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Italy: Retail $38. 95% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo Nero. Organic vineyards. On night one, this was not really all that compelling, but on night two? Much, much better. Dark fruit (a lot of plum) on the nose, plenty of spice, and black pepper. The palate is tart, with impressive acid, subtle fruit, pepper, and noticeable tannin. This is subtle, it takes time and attention to appreciate, but if you do, you will be rewarded. Excellent. 90-92 Points.
2018 Yalumba Shiraz Organic, South Australia: Retail $18. 100% Shiraz. Under screw. Organic. According to its website, “Yalumba is also a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) – an initiative aiming to increase sustainable packaging, increase recycling, and reduce packaging litter.” I am far from an expert in Australian wines. Like really far. I have never been to the country and therefore I have only tasted wines that are (generally) widely available in this country. While this is not the most profound Aussie wine I have tasted, it is particularly delightful: big fruit, ample acid, hints of depth, lengthy finish. There is no doubt that this is a fruit lover’s wine with big plum, blackberry, and blueberry all over the place. This also has nuance with all that fruit, spice, and a suggestion of tannin on the finish. While this is not in my wheelhouse, per se, give me a pork tenderloin and I would completely murder this bottle. Very Good to Excellent. 88-90 Points.