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Tast Test: Organic Red Wine

For years, organic vintners suffered a bit of a sour reputation when it came to taste. Now, fueled by consumers' growing enthusiasm for all things chemical-free and sustainably grown, organic wine has entered a flavorful new phase. In the name of research, we tasted 16 organically made red wines to find three bottles that went beyond just drinkable. Not one contained added sulfites (a naturally occurring and often added preservative, to which 1 in 100 people is sensitive) . All-natural and delicious: Now that's worth toasting.

Frey Vineyards 2005 (left)
Organic Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County
Not a lightweight, this cabernet is big, dark, and full. A hint of cinnamon balances out the soft chocolate, black cherry, and plum flavors. Best paired with: hearty fare, like roast meats or a winter stew. freywine.com

Badger Mountain (center)
2005 NSA Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley
This vintage is drier than Frey's, with an earthy, vegetal vibe -- one could say it smells and tastes like a garden. Best paired with: simple, proteinrich dishes like a lamb burger with fresh rosemary or thyme. badgermtnvineyard.com

Coturri (right)
2004 Charbono, Testa Vineyards, Mendocino County
Cedar, berries, and spice dominate this "juicy" red made from Charbono grapes, making it an excellent find. (Though it's certified organic, the label doesn't show the USDA seal.) Best paired with: roast chicken, wild mushrooms, and tomato sauces. coturriwinery.com

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