Wine Review: Frey Vineyards
I am very pleased and honored to have been given the opportunity to review vegan wines for ActionLine. In each issue, I will endeavor to steer you towards what I consider to be great wines at great prices, to help you gain knowledge about specific styles and types and avoid the pitfalls of buying poor-quality wines. It's my hope to be able to guide you to discover some delicious and interesting products but equally important to make certain you avoid any animal products that are sometimes used in the filtering of the wines. Here's to a wonderful trip together. À votre santé!
For our first venture, I would like to review two wines from Frey Vineyards. Frey is an old, established winery nestled in the hills of Mendicino County, California. Their wines are readily available through their website and at retail stores throughout the United States.
While Frey’s own land is Biodynamic® (please note: this means animals are on the farm), Frey has been a long time friend of the vegan community by offering a separate, organic line of wine that is vegan, with grapes sourced from nearby farms.
More information about Frey Vineyards is available at www.freywine.com.
2003 Frey Organic Sangiovese ($14.75): The grapes for making Sangiovese originated in Tuscany region of Italy. This offering from Frey is made in the Italian tradition of the wine, but is distinctly California-styled.
The wine has a medium dark ruby color, and captivating red and black fruit aromas. The nose develops in the glass after several minutes as the wonderful intensity of the fruit becomes apparent. The flavors are long and smooth with subtle tannins. The light peppery and fruit flavors are elegant, and the wine has an overall excellent balance. There is a silkiness to the flavors and restrained tannins on the finish. This Sangiovese in the perfect accompaniment to hearty pasta dishes.
2006 Frey Organic Chardonnay ($12.75): The inviting, bright-golden color is the first notable aspect of this wine. The aroma is interestingly less buttery and oaky than most California offerings but instead displays a wonderful floral, mineral-like aroma in more of a French-style chardonnay. On the palate the wine is elegant, with a nice acidity and honeyed texture.
Medium bodied, this chardonnay boasts excellent length and a rich finish. The wine works well with light bean dishes as well as any type of hummus and red pepper dips.
Note: In this and all wine reviews, we are relying on the information received from the wine maker or the winery. Although we are dedicated to give the best possible general guidance to help readers make decisions, neither the writer nor Friends of Animals will be responsible if animal products are found to have been used in the production of any wines purchased.
The information contained in this article was researched and confirmed with the company on 23 February 2009. Cabernet tendril photo copyrighted by Frey Vineyards, www.freywine.com
What Makes Frey Organic Line of Wines Vegan?
Q. Are Frey Wines acceptable to vegans?
As for the ingredients in the wine, Frey Vineyards has made a commitment to formulate all of their organic and Biodynamic® wines -- red and white -- without using any animal products, which are commonly used in winemaking as fining agents.
Please note that Biodynamic® farms view animals as, in Frey’s words, “an essential component of farm ecology and nutrient cycling.” In contrast, vegans view the presence of domesticated animals on farms as unnecessary, environmentally problematic, and a use of animals for human purposes. While Frey’s own land is Biodynamic®, the company states: “For vegans who are concerned with the use of animal products in general, we honor your choice and continue to produce our full line of organic wines made from grapes sourced from our neighboring farmers’ certified organic vineyards.”
Thus, Frey offers a separate, organic line of wine that is vegan, with grapes sourced from nearby farms.
Q. What are fining agents?
As explained by Frey Vineyards, fining is an ancient winemaking practice that clarifies and stabilizes wine. Fining agents are added to a tank or barrel of wine. They drift through the wine, pick up solid matter, and eventually sink to the bottom of the container. The clarified wine is siphoned off the top, leaving behind the residue and fining agent resting on the bottom, which are then discarded.
Hydrolyzed wheat gluten isolate and pea protein isolate are sometimes used as fining agents in wine making. Other fining agents are casein (milk protein), gelatin, egg whites, fish glue, or natural bentonite clay. It is important to remember that fining agents precipitate, or sink, to the bottom of the tank or barrel, then are completely separated from the wine before bottling. Although these fining agents are completely removed before the wines are bottled, some consumers may object to their use by a winery.
Q. What fining agent is used at Frey Vineyards?
The company states: “At Frey Vineyards we use only bentonite, a natural earth clay, as the fining agent for all of our white wines. (Frey red wines are not fined).”
Q. Are Frey Wines acceptable to people with wheat allergies or celiac disease?
Frey makes no health claim regarding their wines. But the company does not use any fining agents containing wheat gluten isolate or pea protein -- only bentonite -- and no additives.