Rosnay Organics Cowra’s Natural Choice

Australia, your wine cellars can now be organic…

As the quality of the Australian organic wine scene continues to improve, Rosnay Wines from the Cowra wine region, 330km west of Sydney, are no exception. Close enough to Orange for winter views of snow-capped peaks, and low enough in the foothills to guarantee excellent ripening and flavour development, Rosnay is now offering a wide range of certified organic wines and other products, which we review this month.

But first of all, lets recap our organic conversation. Like the related word “organism”, the word “organic” implies a holistic view of the farm ecosystem as one cyclic and living being. Like a forest, the decomposition of plant and animal litter builds rich humus, which in turn captures more rainwater and supplies plants with all the micronutrients they need through the microbial breakdown of bedrock. This contrasts with the “modern” view of farming as “in one end and out the other”, converting chemical fertilisers and pesticides into food using soil simply as a holding medium. With little microbial life surviving this system, few trace elements are broken down from the bedrock, and the plants become deficient in key micronutrients, such as boron, zinc and molybdenum.

And of course, which approach produces the best wine? Try some organic wine and find out, because unless the winemaking is faulty (a common thing in the past, due to the low permitted sulfur levels) the organic wine will be more expressive, vibrant and earthy than its polished and homogenous “chemical cousins”.

Besides taste, the health benefits of organic food are known well enough … Higher anti-oxidants and trace minerals due to the non-use of artificial supports such as water soluble fertilisers, pesticides and fungicides. The environmental benefits are obvious – less chemicals in the environment and reduced exposure of rural workers and their families. In Australia, the demonstrated increase in soil carbon resulting organic farming is seen as an opportunity to reduce our greenhouse emissions. Globally, the UN sees organic farming as a way for developing countries to develop their rural economies.

It was in 1997 that the Statham family at Canowindra first investigated organic farming, and by the end of that year they were practicing it. Rosnay is a family business whose success is in the team mix: Richard, former agribusiness manager, banker and farmer, son of a doctor and organic gardener. Florence – who moved here from France and is the gastronomic and artistic powerhouse behind both the flavours and the labels of Rosnay … Sam, the eldest son who was “contaminated” with organic ideas while travelling in New Zealand a decade ago … And Oliver, the youngest sibling with the most dedication to organic food of anyone I know, a unique and honest approach to marketing and also a talented musician (see

Rosnay Products – The New, the Improving, the Wacky and the Bold

The New – Cabernet Sauvignon

In September last year Rosnay launched a straight Cabernet Sauvignon for the very first time. From a region which is best known for its whites, specifically Chardonnay, and with noted potential for great Cabernet-Shiraz, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold move. The fruit, obviously well ripened due to the absence of unripe “green” tannins (with givaway flavours such as capsicum), is vinified with elegance and finesse, rather than overpowering flavour and American-oak. Whilst still a little short in the palate and young of age, this wine has a dusty aroma and earthy flavours which in the style of lighter French Bordeaux gives character. Not cloaked in oak, the secondary aromas and terroir are as important as the fruit to the overall enjoyment.

The Improving – Semillon

Next have a look at the Rosnay 2005 Semillon, successor to the 2004 Semillon which I found disappointing. Here we have improvement… At last year’s Australia-New Zealand Organic Wine Show, the 2005 Semillon was in the tasteoff for best wine, and was the best performing of the 7 Rosnay wines entered, of which six received medals. Max Allen wrote it up as the best white wine ever produced by Rosnay, and I recommend you try it.

The Wacky – Rose

Not that there is anything truly traditional about Rosé, except that it was usually made by “bleeding off” the juice of the red grapes in order to concentrate the colour from the skins into the remaining juice, and to make the remaining red wine more intense in colour. The result of this is often that a certain amount of hard, herbaceous tannin is still found in the pink juice, which can only be concealed or balanced by making the wine sweet. Perhaps this explains the abundance of sweet Rosé on the market, at good prices. The Rosnay Rose, in contrast, meets the modern consumers desire for a dry wine which is cleansing, refreshing, crisp and fruity ¯ and rounded but not sweet. I dont know what the varieties used are for the Rosnay Rose, but over the last two years this wine has been very popular and sold out within six months, so I look forward to the release of the 2007 Rose in July-August.

The Bold – Olive Paste

Available through Gershgoods, the Rosnay olive paste is made from the ripest, darkest organic kalamata olives, hand graded from the Rosnay fruit bottled and sold in brine. Made with absolute simplicity, as a simple olive puree with a dash of vinegar and either herbs (thyme and rosemary) or chili, this product is so versatile that it can be used every day. From olive paste on toast and croutons, to olive paste in pasta sauce, to olive paste in seafood jus or rolled in filo pastry with herbs and parmesan cheese to make “Pasties”… Seek out this bold olive flavour experience and use your imagination. Without anchovies or capers, it’s not a tapenade – but you can make that yourself too!

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