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Biodynamic Wines
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Frances Bentley is the Scottish Sales Manager for Champagne Duval-Leroy and can be contacted on 07824 775862.

May 2011


A topical debate in the wine trade concerns the importance (or lack thereof) of biodynamics in winemaking.  This practice has recently come to the fore as a greater number of producers, especially in France and Italy, adopt the processes. This facet of wine production is something many people in the trade don't talk about as it seems silly despite some famous high-end producers using the methods. Chapoutier in the Rhone, Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace and Frog's Leap in California being good examples.


Biodynamics (as with organic winemaking) forbids the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but goes further, taking cues from the philosopher Rudolph Steiner who believed that agriculture was intrinsically linked with spiritual elements of nature.Bear with me.


Biodynamics is a more holistic approach to wine production. The health of the vine and the quality of the wine is seen as resting on a number of life forces:  soil, winemakers themselves, and the surrounding eco-system. The practice involves homeopathic doses to treat soil and vines. One of the more bizarre 'energizers' is made from fermented plants mixed with animal bladders and bones. Other treatments are made from the pounded flowers and other natural products. Another facet of biodynamics is astrology. All work carried out in the vineyard as well as the harvest itself is conducted following a calendar that is loosely based on the position of the moon and constellations.


But does it make for a better wine?


Possibly.  Over the past few years I've tried many biodynamic wines, and have had very few bad ones; though I feel that this is owed more to  the behaviour of the winemaker rather than the processes themselves. It is hard to make a bad wine if a winemaker is very in tune with their land, plants and the processes biodynamics requires. Great wines are like great people, they are a product of understanding and work, not left to grow by their own whims. Biodynamic wines are not better than other wines, they just come with the catch of being more 'holier-than-thou'.


To cap it all, a wine tasting calendar has been published using the astrological biodynamic principals. It indicates a 'good' tasting day, breaking the calendar up into days of fruit or flower (good) and root or leaf (bad). My copy is mainly an excuse for when I can't blind taste for toffee; surely all days are good wine drinking days?



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