What do we do to have a certified “Made from Organic Grapes” Riesling: to be organic the wine as to 1) be made from certified organic grapes 2) be made in a winemaking facility certified to organic standard 3) follow a process filed with USDA that is organic. Pacific Rim is certified by the Washington State Department of Ag which, in turns, is certified by USDA. The process is fairly restrictive, expensive (we pay a percentage of sales to WSDA) and requires yearly inspections from WSDA and yearly filing.
Why is our wine labeled “Made From Organic Grapes” rather than “Organic”: Everything we use in our winemaking is certified organic. We actually go beyond the regulation because 1) we do not use commercial yeasts 2) we do not add any acid to our wines. The only non organic element we use is sulfur dioxide know as sulfites (not to be mistaken with sulfides which is a term gathering a bunch of stinky rotten egg compounds sometimes found in wines). Sulfur dioxide is a very common preservative in dry fruits, pre packed vegetables and juices. It is authorized in wines up to 350 mg/L but in Organic and biodynamic winemaking it is limited to 100 mg/L which is why at Pacific Rim all our wines are bottled with less than 100 mg/L of sulphur dioxide – guaranteed. We bottle the Riesling MFOG at around 90 mg/L (or ppm). Therefore the non organic fraction of the Riesling MFOG is really 0.009%. So it is quite a pure organic wine but since it has 0.009% of non organic product we have to call it MFOG.
Why use sulfites in wines by the way?: Sulfites act as 1) an antioxidant which is very important in white wines (we don’t need much for that purpose because we use air tight screwcaps and we make sure that our wines have no dissolved oxygen when they go in the bottle) and 2) an anti bacterial and anti fungal agent which is important for us because we have residual sugars and residual malic acid (we do not do malolactic fermentations). A last bonus of sulfites is that it is a bit like salt with food (Just like sulfites, salt is not healthy if you eat too much of it!) as it highlights and focuses the aromas and flavors of a wine. Finally note that sulfites are naturally produced by yeast in the 30ppm range usually – so even an Organic wine probably contains a small amount of sulfites.
Our style: The grapes are picked around 22 Brix which would qualify for a very ripe Spatlese in most German regions. We make it in a definite sweet style but beware the acid on that one! About 0.78 TA, 3.04 pH and 3.5%RS. I think this is a very balanced wine with always very refined aromas of fresh white flowers and some peach. This is really a chameleon wine as far as pairing goes and at 10.5% Ethanol it is easy to drink!