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Biodynamic wine

Last week I started a series of articles covering wines made with harmony, and respect for Mother Nature.

This week I will share a few that have the Demeter symbol on the label, guaranteeing that their practices obey all the rules of this worldwide biodynamic organisation.

I am also asked about biodynamics. My simplest answer is that it is organic and therefore does not destroy the environment.

Imagine what an 800-year-old vineyard in Burgundy has given of its soul or unique individual sense of place over this vast expanse of time. Bio heals, regenerates and restores the farmland or vineyard whether young or old.

I will not go into detail as it is easy to Google the subject, but here is a brief explanation from the Sustainable Food Trust: “The phenomenon we now identify as the organic movement arose in the early twentieth century as agriculture started to become more industrialised and synthetic fertiliser was introduced.

Biodynamic farming was born from a series of agricultural lectures in 1924 given by Austrian philosopher and social reformer, Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). He had been invited to a Silesian farm estate by a group of farmers concerned about the negative impact of nitrogen fertiliser on soil quality. Drawing on traditional farming practices and his own 'spiritual science', which aimed to bring scientific rigour to spirituality, Steiner suggested a set of practices and principles for sustainable agriculture. He urged his followers to test his ideas and, thanks to this approach, biodynamic farming developed through collaborative research, observation and hands-on farming practice.”

Michael Seresin eschews the consumption of meat as he knows the environmental impact of raising animals for food. The Seresin winery in Marlborough New Zealand says: “We farm biodynamically. This means that we work in harmony with seasonal earthly and celestial rhythms. Our wines therefore express a sense of time, with wines from each harvest subtly different from its predecessor. We keep the vines healthy by feeding the soil with animal manure composts and spraying the vine leaves with teas made from local herbs and minerals.”

Master of wine Bob Campbell rates the 2018 Seresin Sauvignon Blanc 94/100 and says that it is “made from organic/biodynamically-grown grapes fermented with wild yeasts and matured in neutral French oak barrels".

He describes it as " an intense and quite textural sauvignon blanc with passion fruit, guava and melon flavours”. $27.65 (Stock #8714).

There is one thing that I must make you aware of that may confuse. I can tell you that the Burgundy firm of Joseph Drouhin farms all their own land biodynamically, but this does not guarantee that all Drouhin wines carry the Demeter logo on their labels as, in some cases, they do buy some outside grapes.

An example is their pouilly fuisse where they may purchase some grapes that they have specified must be of a high quality but may not be certified biodynamic. I can assure you that all Drouhin chablis is bio, such as the 2019 Drouhin Chablis Premier Cru Les Vaillons.

Wine Enthusiast magazine rates it 94/100 and writes: "Yeasty funk on this wine's otherwise shy nose speaks of youth and complexity. The palate comes in with vivid freshness that pervades a creamy, concentrated and layered mid-palate that has a pithy, mouth-watering texture and real focus. The finish is alive and lasting, with pure lemon freshness". $43.50 (Stock #7852)

Our 2015 Domaine Drouhin "Laurène" Dundee Hills Pinot Noir, like all their Oregon wines, is biodynamic. Even beyond bio, I have seen their egg-shaped fermentation tanks that copy the very shape of many births in nature – and so too for their newly-forming wine.

These are very in vogue these days and have scientific reasons for helping the must (juice) turn into wine as it violently ferments. Vinous rates it 94/100 and describes it this way: “Deep, glistening red. Vibrant black raspberry, cherry liqueur and rose oil scents, along with hints of dusty minerals, mocha and baking spices. Juicy, seamless and energetic on the palate, offering appealingly sweet dark berry and floral pastille flavours that fan out steadily and turn spicier with air. Smooth, even tannins lend shape to the impressively persistent finish, which shows strong, floral- and spice-driven tenacity." $59.15 (Stock #8076).

I confess that my past experiences with tasting wines with absolutely no added sulphites have been less than rewarding, but that was some time ago and we all move on.

Last week we opened a bottle that plainly displays the Demeter symbol on its front label and the message “Organic and Biodynamic wine as well. No sulphites added.” The back label also says: “This wine is made from biodynamically grown grapes.” It is the 2020 Chakana Sobrenatural Red, a blend of tannat and malbec from Argentina. At $21.20 it certainly hit the spot and it was decided that it was well worth future purchases. It is dark, juicy, and soft. (Stock #8019).

The subject of sulphur could more than fill this page and so briefly: this is a substance that occurs naturally in nature.

With no added sulphur a wine may contain 5 to 40 parts per million. In the USA the overall wine limit is 350 ppm and organic wines are limited to 100 ppm. Bacon is 600 to 800 and dried fruit like apricots and raisins 1,1,000 ppm. Sulphur is a preservative and oxygen blocker, hence the problems that a few asthmatic folks have with it.

Just in from Alsace is 2018 Amelie & Charles Sparr Pinot Blanc Pensée. Amélie and Charles have imagined and created a new vision for what Alsatian wine can be. They experiment, dream and push boundaries and, in the process, they are redefining what we can expect from Alsace. All of their farming is biodynamic, certified by Demeter. This is a delicious medium-weight dry white displaying a floral nose with hints of preserved lemon, white flowers, and straw. It opens to reveal honeyed yellow plum notes with a ripe, succulent texture. An expressive pinot blanc of great personality. $26.50 (Stock #7618).

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at mrobinson@bll.bm. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit www.wineonline.bm

Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, who lived on Mount Olympus, the home of the 12 Greek gods (Photograph supplied)

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Published October 29, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated October 28, 2021 at 2:02 pm)

Biodynamic wine

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