Organic wine

Here in Australia we have a vibrant wine industry including an increasing number of vineyards producing organic and/or biodynamic wine. We are especially keen on the wines from Mudgee in central NSW. This is a dry inland region that is ideal for organic growing due to the lack of humidity which reduces the amount of mould and fungus problems compared to locations closer to the coast, these are generally treated using chemical sprays. One of the oldest is Botobolar, they produce a range of affordable wines that are great examples of big red's, not too subtle but good value drinking. The vineyard is unirrigated and has been much affected by drought in recent years, sometimes picking no grapes at all for a season.

Our favourite vineyard in Mudgee is Lowe Wines, these are really classy organic wines and the cellar door experience when the owners Jane or David are around is definitely worth making the trek for. They are very passionate about their wines, especially the award winning Zinfandel to which we have become quite attached. The 2003 Zinfandel won an international award, beating off well established makers from the US and elsewhere. These are hard to come by now, we recently opened a bottle to ensure that it was keeping well and were blown away, its still a fantastic wine. Now we have to hide the 5 remaining bottles from ourselves or they will all go the same way.

Also worth a mention is Thistle Hill. There are many others around the country and a great place to find them is www.organicwine.com.au. Recently major chains have started to see the light and are experimenting with stocking some organic wine. Last week the Vintage Cellars chain advertised a Sauvignon Blanc they have sourced from a co-operative in France. Its a pity they haven't chosen to promote a local label, still I am keen to try it. For an international overview view of organic wine have a look at the Organic Wine Journal.

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New perspectives on money

The May/June issue of Resurgence has arrived and it looks very interesting.

Its a special focus issue titled "The money delusion: In search of true wealth". It kicks off with an excellent editorial from Satish Kumar which introduces the topic.

Here are a few quotes to give you a flavour of the article:

"Let us be clear. Money is not wealth. It is a delusion to think that money is wealth. True wealth is good land, healthy animals, flourishing forests, clean water, honest work, abundant creativity and human imagination"

and

"For example, there is never a shortage of money for wars and weapons, but it is always in short supply for arts and education"

Its worth a read and can be found here

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Slow food university

When Slowlane joined Slow Food recently they sent a booklet outlining their various initiatives, The Slow Food Companion. Two ventures that sounded particularly interesting were the University of Gastronic Sciences (UNISG) and the Terre Madre. The university is based in Piedmont and claims to be the first academic institution in the world dedicated to the study of gastronomy. Subjects include Botany, Food Technology, History of Agriculture, Sensory Analysis and Anthropology. The curriculum combines humanities and sciences with food technology and culture. An article appeared today in the Sydney Morning Herald about a local man who is studying at the UNISG, he is living a simple life in the local village, going to the market three times a week and practising what they are learning by cooking for fellow students in the evening. Also mentioned in the article was the Terra Madre, an annual Slow Food gathering in Turin that bring together thousands of artisanal food producers, farmers, fisherman from 150 countries, cooks, academics from over 200 universities, representatives of NGOS, journalists and of course slow foodies of other descriptions. This years Terra Madre promises to be huge, I hope to attend one of these in the next few years. Sounds amazing.

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Krinklewood biodynamic wine

The Krinklewood vineyard was recently given a positive review in the local media so I thought I would give it a try. We would have gotten around to it anyway as we are very keen on organic and biodynamic wines. So last night I picked up a bottle of the 2007 Verdelho which we tried with some high quality lebanese food at a local restaurant. Wow, this is a delicious wine. I haven't drunk much Verdelho and was not sure whether I would find it interesting. So we were pleasantly surprised to find a light crisp taste with definite citrus/passionfruit characters. To my palate it was not unlike a mild sauvignon blanc. Highly recommended and very good value at around $A21. Importantly there were no negative effects the next morning :)

Here a few notes on the winemaking (read more on their website) "The fruit was picked in the cool of the night at optimum ripeness and was crushed with only the premium free-run juices being used. Fermentation took place in Stainless Steel tanks under cool conditions. The wine was bottled early to retain freshness of the primary fruit characters with very fine filtration" Its good to see bottles boldly declaring their biodynamic origins prominently on the label.

Until recently many makers of organic and biodynamic wines were loathe to promote this aspect of their wine, apparently many wine buyers were of the view that this was synonymous with poor quality. Its also encouraging to see biodynamic wine of this quality coming from the Hunter Valley region. I've written previously about the inland region of Mudgee where many of the organic/biodynamic fruit is grown successfully, partly due to the lack of moisture related problems that are difficult treat with the limited arsenal available to the organic/biodynamic grower.

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