30 Second Wine Advisor: Organic labeling clarified ... or not? 30 Second Wine Advisor: Organic labeling clarified ... or not?

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Organic labeling clarified ... or not?

Organic food is becoming trendy, with grocery sales of organic foods growing at a rate of nearly 20 percent per year for the past seven years.

But organic wine hasn't gained nearly as much traction in the marketplace. There's been little change since I reported early last year that U.S. sales of wines made with organic grapes in 2005 made up only about 1 percent of the domestic wine market.

Personally, I'm an eager advocate of organic foods, but organic and biodynamic wines haven't made a similar case with me - or, apparently, with many other wine-geek consumers, perhaps because the artisanal wines we favor don't make heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides anyway. In extensive tastings, I can't say that I find much difference between organic wines and their non-organic competitors in the glass.

Still, organic wine sales are forecast to increase, pulled along by the organic food trend.

Coincidentally, new rules governing organic wine labeling in the U.S. took effect last month. The rule changes were intended to "clarify" the contents of organic labels for consumers. Clarify? Let's see ...

First, wines that have been labeled "Made with Organic Ingredients" now will have to spell out whether there are non-organic ingredients in the wine as well, using one of the following specific statements:

* Made with organic and non-organic grapes.

* Made with organic {variety) grapes and non-organic (variety) grapes.

* Made with _% organic grapes and _% non-organic grapes.

* Made with _% organic (variety) grapes and _% non-organic [variety] grapes.

In addition to the "Organic Ingredients Statement," bottles of wine declared organic must also carry a separate statement revealing the amount of organic ingredients in the bottle by percentage.

What's more, even if a wine is made from 100 percent organic grapes, it may not be certified organic if it contains added sulfites.

Further, if the winery has not elected to go through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's certification process for organic producers, it may not be certified organic, even if the contents in fact are 100 percent organic. (However, in another burst of clarity impairment, the regulations do permit such wines to be labeled, "Ingredients: Organic Grapes."

Everything all clear now?

The rules, established among the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service and Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, took effect June 2.

The Tax and Trade Bureau offers a technical summary of the new rules on "Alcohol Beverages Labeled with Organic Claims" here:
http://www.ttb.gov/alfd/alfd_organic.shtml

For today's tasting, featured below, let's have a look at an Italian wine that apparently meets all the new reg's requirements: Sergio Mottura 2007 "Tragugnano" Orvieto, a white wine from Umbria, is labeled "made with organic grapes" and "certified organic."

A blend of the regional grapes Procanico (40%), Verdello (30%) and Grechetto (30%), it's also a good fit with this month's Wine Focus on offbeat white wines.


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Today's Tasting Report

Sergio Mottura 2007 "Tragugnano" Orvieto ($12.99)Tragugnano

An un-oaked blend of the regional grapes Procanico (40%), Verdello (30%) and Grechetto (30%), this Umbrian white wine is labeled "made with organic grapes" and "certified organic," is a clear, pale brass color. Fresh white fruit aromas add honey and almond scents that suggest a sweet wine; but the flavor is bone dry and crisply acidic, a tart mix of melons and citrus. A pleasant touch of almond-skin bitterness appears in the finish. U.S. importer: Cutting Edge Selections, Fairfax, Ohio. (July 19, 2009)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with caprese salad and thin-sliced sopressata salami, a picnic dinner at an al fresco band concert.

WEB LINK: Here is the winery's English-language fact sheet on its Tragugnano Orvieto:
http://www.motturasergio.it/international/wines/tragugnano.html

FIND THIS WINE ONLINE:
Wine-Searcher.com's public pages show only British merchants for Tragugnano Orvieto:
http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/Tragugnano%2bOrvieto/-/-/-/USD/A?referring_site=WLP

The winery Website offers direct shipping to the U.S. and the U.K., for those willing to bear shipping costs and exchange rate from the Euro. (Twelve bottles of the Tragugnano would be 244 Euros including shipping, approximately US$347, or $29 a bottle. Specific information and pricing here:
http://www.motturasergio.it/LISTINO%20DIRECT%20DELY.htm


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