If you’re looking for a hostess gift, wine for a holiday meal, or simply a go-to weeknight bottle to add to your collection, these biodynamic and organic wines are a great place to start. I’ve rounded up red and white wines that are both delicious, affordable and made sustainably.
As I’ve admitted in the past, one of the results of my month-long vice detox is that I’ve become a bit of a fancy pants when it comes to wine, especially red wine without additives.
Luckily, organic wines have been cropping up more and more on restaurant lists, going toe to toe with the conventional heavy weights. The contents of these bottles are made using organic farming and harvesting practices – meaning, no additives, pesticides and such.
What is a biodynamic wine?
If a wine is also biodynamic, it means that the vineyard is harvested sustainably according to the lunar calendar. Usually, biodynamic vineyards also have a working farm nearby, as the wine production is weaved into the overall sustainability of the operation as a whole.
Biodynamic wines have no added sulfites, sugar or other additives. You can also safely assume they’re organic, even if they don’t have the certification.
For awhile natural wines were also thought to be a flavor seeker’s gamble. Without a little help from laboratories to correct imperfections and irregularities from crop to crop, these bottles can often have a funky, off-putting quality. As my good friend, natural wine enthusiast, and soon-to-be sommelier, David Bruno told me: this is a big misconception.
While some natural wine makers like to experiment and get weird, if you know where to find the best bottles, natural, organic, and biodynamic wines are straight forward delicious.
How do you know if a wine is organic or biodynamic?
Some shops have begun putting green tags or labels on some of their stock to indicate sustainable, biodynamic practices.
I got my early education in natural wines from Foragers, an amazing little store around the corner from my old apartment in Chelsea. In addition to grocery and restaurant components that specialize in local and organic produce, they recently branched out into wine. I’ve tried many bottles from the shop, but I decided to go straight to the source to get some more information about what to look for in organic and biodynamic wines.
Drew, the wine buyer at Foragers, advised that, like packaged food, the back label is your best source of information for how a wine is made. There are a few different certifications to look for. Of course there’s certified organic. But a lot of smaller vineyards and wine makers won’t be able to afford official certification (also, like food brands), so it’s important to read the back of the label where some will explain cultivation and biodynamic processes.
Two other things to look for are SIP certification, which speaks to sustainability, and Demeter, which is the main marker for biodynamic wines.
If you don’t see a certification and don’t have time to browse, you can seek out wines from specific importers. Jenny and Francoise, one that Drew recommended, specialize in French wines. In general, the Loire Valley was one of the first regions to really catch onto the organic trend. Louis-Dressner is another one to look for in that part of the world. For some fantastic options from Germany, David recommends anything with Vom Boden on the bottle.
The importer is named on the back of the label, and if you see either of these three, you’re pretty surely selecting a more natural wine.
If you’re looking to branch out into some more natural options for your grape juice consumption, Drew has put together a list of some of his favorites from the shop that are on the more affordable side along with some other helpful information below. David has also suggested some more obscure natural bottles from various islands. And finally, Bianca Bosker, the author of the fabulous wine memoir Cork Dork and this piece on the wine additive industry, has passed along a few back pocket favorites from her virtual cellar! Plus, I’ve listed a few of the favorite bottles in our household as well.
These wines are less likely to cause a headache the next day due to the lack of additives, but in case you need them, you can also check out my natural hangover cures or tips for a full liver detox after a big night out!
THE BEST BIODYNAMIC AND ORGANIC WINE BRANDS
Drew’s Picks from Foragers NYC, under $30:
Jenny and Francois are great distributors of organic and biodynamic wines from France. If you’re unsure of the certification on the back of the label, look for their name and you can assume that it’s a pretty clean bottle.
Tangent Albarino, $18
The classic Spanish white grape grown organically in California’s Edna Valley and is certified sustainable through SiP (Sustainability in Practice).
Domaine du Mortier “Dionysos”, $25
This is one of our favorite red wine without additives in the shop from the Loire Valley in France. Loire Valley is one of the regions that has pioneered the use of organic and biodynamic farming and is generally a good place to look for these natural types of wines in a wine store or on a restaurant wine list.
This was one of the natural wines from Jenny and Francois, which actually says “No Added Sulfites” on the bottle. This wine is super fresh and dry with soft bubbles and a clean minerality. It’s one of our spring and summer favorites.
This one is not technically Biodynamic, but Iit is one of the more popular organic wines in the shop and a great value.
Montinore Pinot Gris, $17
Demeter-Certified Biodynamic wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Their website has good information on all their wines (we also carry their Borealis and Reserve Pinot Noir).
David Bruno’s picks from the islands and beyond:
An island breeze in a glass. A perfect rose for all summer long.
Antoine Arena Patrimonio ‘Carco Blanc’ 2014 (Corsica), $56
Though a little on the pricier side, this Vermentino is crisp and clean for those seeking to shake up their usual Sauv Blanc drinking game.
Bellus Frappato ‘Scopello’ Sicilia 2014, $25
This Sicilian light red tastes great with a slight chill year-round.
Envinate are making some of the best Spanish wines for the price on the market right now, strong buy!
Straying from the island theme, these guys are making the most magical Pinot Noirs in Germany and have a crushable Muller-Thurgau that is a 365-day killer.
Bianca Bosker’s back pocket picks from her year of Cork Dork-ing:
Pretty much every bottle of his I’ve had from this producer is great.
The Sandocino is also wonderful. Both are distributed through Jenny and Francois Selections.
Batič Angel Grande Cuvee 2010, $30
An excellent white from Slovenia, from an estate where the Mediterranean and the alpine climates meet.
Occhipinti Sp 68 Sicilia Bianco 2016, $30
Mine and my husband’s picks from our local organic wine shop, Thirst in Fort Greene and Verve in Manhattan:
Bonnet-Cotton, “Ygueule VDF” 2020, $30.00 $30.00
We visited this vineyard in Oregon in 2015 and their wines never disappoint. They are also much more affordable than anything in California with superior quality, in our opinion. Their Pinot Noir is also lovely.
Stefano Massone Gavi Masera 2021, $15
Gavi is a fantastic light white from Umbria. When we see it on a menu, we always know it will play well with many different flavors on our plate. It’s a fantastic choice for the holidays when you’re not sure what’s on the menu.
Do you have any favorite natural, organic or biodynamic wine brands? Let me know in the comments so we can add to our arsenal!