Wine - Roger Scruton finds a growing trade in organic wine

Thanks to organic wine, there may at last be a cure for fusspottery

We are told that the future for small farmers is to go organic, thereby supplying the growing market among fusspots. But people rarely understand the difficulty of doing this. One trace of antibiotic on the fields and your organic credentials are in doubt. Of course, you can keep cows without antibiotics: you just have to stifle your emotions as they drag their injured legs around the fields or groan with mastitis in the barn. But the cost of keeping a horse in the same way - with three-month rather than three-day periods of recovery - is unsustainable. And then there is the muck-heap, most of which you can no longer spread; there is the nitrogen-starved grass, which grows thin and sparse like an old man's beard; and there are the docks, thistles, buttercups and ragwort that steadily take over the fields. Pests have to be fought off by hand, in the same way as health inspectors, RSPCA officers or John Prescott. And when your principal crop is fruit, you must pray for ladybirds to eat the aphids, spiders to eat the ladybirds, tits to eat the spiders, hawks to eat the tits, and so on in the manner of ancient nursery rhymes.

Such difficulties notwithstanding, there is a growing trade in organic wine. This is encouraging, as there is no cure for fusspottery more reliable than wine. If the health addicts can be encouraged to internalise the serene good humour of wine and the humble acceptance of mortality that it engenders, their disability will at last disappear, and we can return to normal - which is to say imperfect - ways of doing things. And the most welcome news of all is that wine often tastes better - more earthy, robust and challenging, more contemptuous, in short, of fusspottery in all its forms - when cultivated organically.

You can prove this by visiting Simply Organic, a firm located in Kingsthorpe Hollow, Northamptonshire, which offers organic wine from all over the world, including some of the most famous appellations of France, Italy and Spain. Of those we tasted, two were outstanding examples of their kind. One was a Sollatio Bianco 2002 from Sicily, a snip at £4.99, with all the peachy lipstick flavour that characterises the deep-dry rustic whites of the Mediterranean. It perfected our fish soup, both in it and with it, and made an ordinary evening in Wiltshire feel like an ordinary evening on Mount Etna, with a whiff of everyday disaster in the air.

The other find was a Sancerre 2002 by Christian Dauny: one of the most earthy, grassy and Rabelaisian of Sancerres, made tough, stalky and outspoken by the organic treatment. Competitively priced at £8.99, this wine proved to be the perfect accompaniment to the bill for antibiotics sent round that evening by the vet.

Roger Scruton is a philosopher and countryside campaigner as well as an author and broadcaster. Widely regarded as one of Britain’s leading right wing thinkers, his publications include the Meaning of Conservatism. He has also written on fox hunting.

This article first appeared in the 18 August 2003 issue of the New Statesman, How fat became a political issue