The Thirsty Travellers were invited to an organic wine masterclass at the Cellarmasters headquarters this week.
Ginger was thriled to visit the Cellarmasters tasting room, as it’s situated in the former Reader’s Digest building – recognised as an iconic example of Brutalist architecture – in Surry Hills. It also features one of the city’s first rooftop gardens on its second floor.
Ginger couldn’t resist popping out to the terrace to admire the garden and take a few snaps – what an amazing hidden spot to have in your workplace!
The masterclass was hosted by the vivacious Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director for Cellarmasters.
Ricketts revealed that “drinking green” when it comes to red, white and rosé wine has never been so popular.
Sales of organic wines are booming, and Cellarmasters has quadrupled its organic wine range in the last 12 months alone.
“A couple of years ago we would only have a handful of wines from organic producers, but they weren’t marketed as being ‘organic’ as there was very little interest at the time,” Ricketts explained to the assembled journalists and influencers.
“However, in the last 12 months we’ve seen a huge surge in demand and supply of organic wines. Organic wines are free from chemical pesticides, and organic farming practices treat the environment more fairly.”
“Many experts also believe organic wine tastes more vibrant than conventional wine, so there are many reasons to try organic wine if you haven’t already,” she added.
Our favourites among the seven wines in the masterclass were:
Perelada Stars Organic Cava 2017 – clean nose, with fruity notes and marked ageing notes; ripe fruits palate, with a hint of nuts and a good balance.
Zonte’s Footstep Organic Rosé 2019 – nose showcases aromas of blackcurrant and red grapefruit. Palate has rich varietal flavours while retaining good acidity and ripe tannins.
Hermosa South Australia Albarino 2019 – nose of lifted pear, citrus and fresh clean fruit salad. Well balanced acidity in the palate, crisp finish.
Mount Horrocks Nero d’Avola 2017 – nose redolent with juicy red berry fruits and spice notes. Palate of cherry and raspberry, rosemary and bay leaf, underpinned by gentle tannins and appealing softness.
Ginger bonded with Christine after the masterclass over their favourite rosés. During the class, Ricketts had revealed her eyes were opened to the varietal after tasting Charles Melton’s Rose of Virginia in the early ’90s.
Natch! Ginger had the same revelation on a visit to the Barossa Valley around the same time. She’s also quite partial to a Turkey Flat Rosé, although a recent winner is Sandalford Rosé, which The Thirsty Travellers discovered a few years ago on a trip to Margaret River.
Unfortunately it’s currently out of stock, so we’re hunting around for new finds.
Here, Christine debunks the most common myths about organic wine:
Myth: Organic wine doesn’t give you hangovers
Although organic wine tends to have less sulphites than conventional wine, it can still give you a hangover. Hangovers are caused by the alcohol content, although histamines and tannins in wine can contribute to a sore head the next day. If you want to avoid hangovers all together, moderation is key no matter what wine you’re drinking.
Myth: Organic wine doesn’t taste as good as normal wine
Organic wine hasn’t always had a great reputation when it comes to taste. However, these days most green wines tend to be great drops and many wine lovers praise their purity of flavour. In fact, a study from 2016 by University of California concluded that organic wine tastes better than conventional wine after looking at expert reviews of more than 74,000 wines. Furthermore, many of the best wineries in the world like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – which makes some of the most expensive wines in the world – are organic.
Myth: Organic wine is more expensive
Although organic wine might have been more expensive five or ten years ago, this is not the case anymore. As organic wine has become more accessible, so have the prices. You can often get a bottle of organic wine for the same price as conventional wine.
Myth: Organic wine is vegan
Did you think all organic wine is vegan? Think again. Most wines are non-vegan because winemakers add fining agents to counteract cloudiness in the wine, and the most common fining agents are casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatine and isinglass (fish protein). Due to the increase in demand of vegan wines, many wines are now labelled “vegan friendly” if they have used vegan fining agents, such as clay (bentonite), limestone or silica gel.
Myth: Organic wine is a new trend
Although it might seem like a recent innovation, organic wine is nothing new. In fact, prior to 1847, all wine would have been organic because farming chemicals were not available then. Some of the greatest wine brands in the world are and have been organic and biodynamic for decades, like the aforementioned Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
Myth: Organic wine is completely preservative-free
Sulphur is permitted in Organic wines and sulphur is a natural by-product of the winemaking process. If you are sensitive to sulphur dioxide, look for wines that are labelled ‘free of or no added preservatives’ but know that winemakers use minimal amounts of sulphur dioxide (SO2). Also, some preservatives can be added to organic wine to prolong the wine’s longevity.\
Myth: Organic wine is easy to make
There are strict rules and regulations around making organic wine. To ensure there are no traces of preservatives or pesticides, a winery has to have used organic farming methods for at least three years before the wine can be labelled organic. So it’s no easy and fast feat! Organic wines have to be made from grapes grown without artificial and chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, with a focus on maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Organic farming is also mindful of the environment and minimising any impact on the land. There are a number of different certification bodies including Australian Certified Organic, NASAA Organic, Certified BioGro Organic—look for the logo on the bottle to confirm the
wine is Certified Organic.
Cellarmasters Organic Wine Reservation delivers six hand-selected wines to your doorstep four times a year for only $120 per delivery.