Chateau Pontet

It’s been not-so-quietly simmering under the surface for a while now, but Wine Advocate’s latest initiative has confirmed one thing: wine isn’t just about the product’s quality anymore. As with the market zeitgeist for any sort of consumer product, sustainability has become a huge factor in determining the perceived value – and not just monetary – of a product. In the case of wine though, it comes with the added benefit: done properly, sustainable farming can also result in better wines.

Wine Advocate’s initiative comes in two parts. Two new search filters on the website sifting for certified organic and/or biodynamic wines; as well as a yearly award, the Robert Parker Green Emblem.

Awarded by their team of wine reviewers to wineries and producers, the emblem recognises “the most extraordinary cases of sustainable efforts in our wine industry”. Awardees are then permitted to carry the emblem on their wines – as long as practices at the winery continue to meet sustainability standards. 

[USA_Spottswoode Estate] A sustainability pioneer for over 30 years
Spottswoode Estate: A sustainability pioneer for over 30 years
The first wave of Robert Parker Green Emblem awardees includes Chateau Pontet-Canet, the first biodynamic producer in Medoc; as well as Napa Valley’s Spottswood Estate, which has been a sustainability champion for over 30 years. 

Says Nicolas Achard, CEO of Robert Parker Wine Advocate, “With the current health crisis, we are aware of the increased consumer desire for responsible and environmentally committed viticulture, and for easier access to these informations. In the Robert Parker Wine Advocate team, we share these concerns, which is why we decided to develop these two tools, including a brand new distinction, in order to highlight the vineyards that combine richness of taste and sustainable viticulture.”

Green practices and organic or biodynamic farming is hardly a new thing in the wine world. Given the fact that wineries have to look decades ahead, playing one’s part in keeping the soil healthy, or preventing climate change seems to be a no-brainer.  Even outside of the no-holds-barred, maverick world of natural winemaking, “traditional” wineries have embraced biodynamic viticulture.  Domaine Romanee Conti turned the entire estate biodynamic in 2007; while Louis Roederer’s 2012 vintage of Cristal (released in 2019) was made wholly from biodynamically-farmed grapes. 

If anything, Wine Advocate’s – whose 100-point wine rating system can move mountains (of wine) – latest decision undoubtedly confirms that the future of wine is, perhaps a little too obviously, ensuring its own future. 

Featured image: Chateau Pontet by Simon Beevers