The words ‘biodynamic’ and ‘organic’ are becoming more prevalent amongst the wines we buy, and the techniques that many vineyards are now adopting are a good fit for the more environmentally or ethically conscious among us. There is an increasing drive for more transparency regarding our food and drink production; where does it come from? How is it made? These are questions that consumers ask, and the holistic approach of biodynamics might just have the answers.
The founder of biodynamics is considered to be Dr Rudolph Steiner, an Austrian-born philosopher who provided spiritual but practical insights to aid ethical agriculture. Biodynamics have been established for more than a century and practiced on every continent in the world. It is no surprise that the techniques are still used today; mankind has always looked to celestial skies for guidance, as far back as the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.
How Does It Work?
Biodynamics is the process that some winemakers implement to influence harvest production and taste of their wines. Everything from planting, pruning and harvesting has an underlying spiritual element, and relies on rhythms of the moon and earth working in harmony as well as the use of a biodynamic calendar, which, is governed by four categories: Root, Fruit, Flower and Leaf days.
ROOT – best days for harvesting fruit
FRUIT – Ideal days for pruning
FLOWER – time to leave the vineyard alone
LEAF – perfect for watering plants
No chemicals or manufactured additions are allowed in biodynamic wines. Winemakers will produce special compost preparations with natural ingredients to bolster their vineyards. A lot of vineyards use more traditional farming methods too, including the use of horses for cultivating as opposed to mechanical input.
There are nine preparations, including the use of manure and cow horns, yarrow blossoms, chamomile, nettles, oak bark, dandelions, Valerian flowers, horsetail herb and horn silica. Each of these preparations provides their own benefits, whether it is to influence colour, aroma and flavour or increase resistance to pests and fungi.
We work with family run producers who are passionate, and this shows through in the taste of their wines. Many are organic and a number are biodynamic. These include Montirius in the Rhone Valley, Domaine de la Chevalerie in the Loire Valley and Domaine Baur in Alsace. All of these have been practicing biodynamics for a decade or more and they feel it takes this long for the true benefits to show in their wines and in their vineyard environment.