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Terra Vitis

September 17, 2010

Over the past decade the movement toward “green” or sustainable living has taken the world by storm.  Wine, winemaking and winegrape growing have not been left out of the broad-sweeping phenomenon.  If you’d like to find out a little more about what sustainability is all about, check out the Message in a Bottle post from June 24th titled Maggie’s Organics.

Within the world of wine there are myriad approaches, venues, certifications and organizations which signal an environmentally friendly product; the French national Terra Vitis foundation is one such organization dedicated to sustainable winemaking practices.  Founded about ten years ago, the group takes a holistic approach to sustainability and reflects on every aspect, however miniscule, of the entire process from the planting of the vines to the bottling of the finished product.

To become a certified Terra Vitis member is to agree to complete transparency in all decisions, practices and proceedings surrounding the wines being made.  This “tracability” as they call it allows for perfect accountability on the part of the winemaker to its consumers.  In this way we can be assured that what we are buying is made responsibly.  The tagline for the program is “where passion finds harmony with reason,” which, though it loses something in translation from the French, is a rather moving sentiment in my opinion.

Terra Vitis members seek to “integrate all the actors in our environment: man, the soil, the plant, the countryside, the flora and the fauna” in an effort to symbiotically preserve the natural environment and human health.  The specifications for certification are upgradable and open for improvement; compliance is enforced by an outside party to help ensure the integrity of the classification.  So if you see the words “Terra Vitis” on a bottle of French wine you know the winemakers are thinking about what they are doing and are being held to certain standards of sustainability on the field and in the cellar.

Unlike many French wine classifications any winemaker in France desiring the Terra Vitis classification is welcome, so long as they abide by the strict rules of transparency and dedication to the health and well-being of the vines, people and ecosystems of the earth.  Domaine Romy is one of the 70 producers in the Beaujolais Bourgogne region alone adhering to the principles of Terra Vitis and their 2009 Beaujolais Blanc is actually my first ever encounter with a white Beaujolais.

Pale gold and aromatic in the glass, crisp on the pallet, bright fruity notes of citrus, peach and pear with an outstanding acid character—this medium-bodied chardonnay is truly delightful.  The fruity aromas come alive in the mouth and dazzle with refreshment.  You can feel the attention that went into making this wine; It is almost as if the balance preserved in the soil by the makers of the wine carries through the lingering finish after each sip I take.  The wine is light and refreshing yet smooth and rich á la fois (at the same time)!

They suggest right on the label to try pairing it with goat cheese “as locals do!” so I did and goat cheese was a perfect accompaniment to the fruity richness and acid backbone of the wine.  This Beaujolais Blanc also sips well as an aperitif and the label suggests that it pairs well with grilled fish or other “sea foods.”

The Terra Vitis label has only been around for the last decade, but French winemakers such as Domaine Romy and countless others have been making wine with an eye to human and ecological health today and in the foreseeable future.  I find it reassuring that more and more people want to know for certain that the products they endorse with their hard-earned dollars are being made with respect to the environment and are asking for evidence on the label.  Terra Vitis is ahead of the curve; somewhere in California right now winemakers are formulating their own system of sustainable/eco-friendly labeling to encompass all of California, a program quite similar to what Terra Vitis is to France.

So, enjoy wine responsibly!  Know your labels, know your product!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Ellis permalink
    September 17, 2010 5:27 pm

    Very informative. I appreciate the efforts and it is obvious job well done. You are a great writer and I appreciate your style…keep it coming.

  2. Maggie permalink
    September 17, 2010 6:56 pm

    Thanks, Tom! I really appreciate any and all feedback… If there’s anything you (or any other reader) would like to see an article about please don’t hestitate to let me know! Also Tom, I think you’d really like this wine! Thanks again.

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