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Environmentally friendly new arrivals for spring

Heals, replenishes and restores: Drouhin farm’s vineyards in France and Oregon are biodynamic (Photograph submitted)

Tomorrow, more than 7,000 cities in at least 187 countries will turn off their lights for one hour.

I understand that Greenrock in Bermuda is encouraging us to do the same between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, to make folks aware of this annual Earth Hour and its message of environmental responsibility.

Drouhin farm their own vineyards in France and Oregon biodynamically and I would like to start by telling you about two new arrivals of theirs from Burgundy that are produced in what I like to call a super organic, chemical-free and healing way.

To set the stage, I will quote a few sentences from the Biodynamic Association: “Biodynamic farmers strive to develop an intimate understanding of each element of the farm and its creative potential. From this understanding they work to bring the elements of the farm into right relationships.

“When seeing a farm as a whole organism, the view of weeds, pests, and diseases changes. Each of these becomes a valuable messenger, revealing an imbalance in the farm and inviting us to correct it.

“A weed might tell us that our soil has become too compacted; a fly infestation in our animal herd might tell us that we need more wild birds on the farm.

“The biodynamic approach emphasises learning from these problems and changing management practices to increase the health of the garden or farm as a whole.”

I should add that sheep-mowers often tend the growth between the vines and also fertilise, and horses pull the ploughs.

My way of summing this all up is to say that organic farming does not destroy the land and the same goes for biodynamic, but the latter also heals, replenishes and restores our planet from which we demand so much.

Last year, our allocation of Drouhin Clos de Mouches was 12 bottles of red and not a drop of white, but we have been more successful with the just-released 2016 vintage, with a small supply of each.

The 35 acres that they own is equally planted to chardonnay and pinot noir, both of which have achieved a mythical status for the house of Joseph Drouhin and this single vineyard.

Today, most vineyard owners rely on vine clone nurseries for their new plantings, but Drouhin has gone back to the old way called ‘massale selection’ that relies on cuttings from exceptional old vines on their property. They take advantage of the uniqueness that this gives to the wine.

Most vines become less productive after 35 years or so and vineyards are replanted in sections over a certain period of time. Cloned vines are genetic copies and massale are distinctly individual.

Robert Parker suggests that Drouhin Clos des Mouches Rouge 2016 can be enjoyed now, but critic John Gilman suggests between 2026 and 2075.

He goes on to write: “The nose offers up a lovely and nicely black fruity blend of sweet dark berries, black cherries, fresh thyme, a superb signature of soil, game bird, espresso and a smoky top-note. On the palate, the wine is deep, pure and very refined in profile, with a sappy core of black fruit, lovely transparency, suave tannins and great length and grip on the nascently complex finish. 93/100.” $119.

The same critic awards the Clos de Mouches Blanc 2016 94-plus and comments: “Often of grand cru quality in my book, and this is emphatically the case with the stunning 2016 version. The wine delivers a very refined aromatic constellation of lemon, apple, pear, chalky minerality, vanillin oak and a lovely, ethery top-note of bee pollen.

“On the palate, the wine is pure, full and nascently complex, with marvellous mid-palate depth, laserlike focus and a very long, refined and vibrant finish. This is a stunning vintage of Clos des Mouches Blanc! (Drink between 2020-2045).” $141.75.

Moving west to the Loire Valley and another vigneron who believes in biodynamics, we have just unloaded (for the first time) Jolivet Les Caillottes 2017 Sancerre that gets a 93/10 from wine blogger Jamie Goode as he writes: “This has a beautiful weight in the mouth, with a lively minerality framing the sweet pear and citrus fruit. It has both bass and treble, with some mandarin orange complementing the richer pear fruit notes. Lovely tingly acidity: really delicate, and fine and expressive. 93/100.”

This single vineyard sauvignon blanc will cost you $34.40.

At about this time a year ago, I wrote about a beautiful walled village that has sat on the highest hilltop in Tuscany for over 1,000 years. With vines planted since 1172, it was a founding member of the Chianti League.

Our houseguest last March was one of the family that owns Castello di Volpaia and its surrounding woods, olive groves and organically farmed vineyards.

I went out on a limb and suggested that her 2015 Chianti reserva would do very well in wine shows and reviews during 2018.

In November, Wine Spectator magazine placed it in third place on their list of the world’s top 100 wines.

As the saying goes, “it went out of here like a scalded cat”.

The Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Reserva 2016 has just arrived and the word is that 2015 and 2016 vintages are of similar high quality in Tuscany. The price of the very elegant and smooth 2016 is $35.75; remember that all their wines are organic.

This column is an advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. E-mail mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). Visit wineonline.bm