Biodynamic Wine – what is the difference to Organic wine?

Moving up the organic scale to Biodynamic production is a big leap of faith, commitment, and investment for wine growers. Yet again the ‘Old World’ of wine producers in Spain, France and Italy have been at the forefront of this revolution.

Simplistically, Biodynamic wine production involves a close following of the solar influences upon our planet and following the natural push and pull of the moon to be in step with its changes and those of the seasons. A full Biodynamic calendar is followed that depends on the astrological configurations. Unsurprisingly many looked on in disbelief as growers converted to Biodynamic processes and procedures believing this to be a load of old Rudolf Steiner mumbo jumbo!

When we first encountered growers adopting the Biodynamic processes and during a vineyard tour with the celebrated Spanish producers Carles Ortiz and his partner Ester Nin of Nin Ortiz in the Catalunya appellation of Priorat, Carles posed the question – ‘if the moon is strong enough to move the world’s oceans in and out twice in 24 hours, what do you think it is doing to the juice in my grapes’?

The Nin Ortiz wines are registered with the Biodynamic organisation run by Nicholas Joly and know as ‘La Renaissance des Appellations’. If in any doubt about the quality of these hand-crafted wines from the schist slopes just two hours south-west of Barcelona, look no further than the 100-point perfect score awarded by Robert Parker when he first tasted Nit de Nin.

In the heart of arguably the worlds greatest production area of wine – Bordeaux, and on its left bank in the area of Pauillac adjacent to Chateau Mouton Rothschild one finds the fabulous extensive estate of Chateau Pontet Canet – a massive advocate and adoptor of Biodynamic wine production. The 81-hectare estate produces one of the truly admired and collected gems of Bordeaux on its alluvial and pebble scattered soils. Alfred Tesseron is the second generation of the family owning the estate and it is now largely in the capable hands of the third generation in the guise of his daughter Christine. The wine is officially recognised as a 5th growth under the 1855 classification but accepted as a super second growth these days in reality. (Pontet Canet features in many of our Waud Investment Wines portfolios) In 2010 the estate was granted organic certification by the Ecocert and latterly its Biodynamic recognition by Biodyvin was granted after the estate converted to Biodynamic methods in 2005. Famously tractors are now little used at Pontet-Canet where the use of horse drawn carts and ploughs was reintroduced much to the amazement of the Bordelaise. The actions of this great estate have been adopted in part by other great estates such as Chateau Palmer and Chateau Margaux which are both close by.

The fantastic wines of Raul Perez in the Bierzo regions of Galicia in north west Spain are predictably produced in line with Biodynamic principles by its eccentric and well-loved star producer. Similarly an old favourite producer of ours from the southern Rhone, Serge Férigoule together with his son Frédéri produce their fabulous biodynamic Vacqueyras wines from Le Sang Des Cailloux (the blood of the stones).

Biodynamic wines of the world can be identified by a stamp on the leaf shaped label motif ascribed with the word Demster. All qualifying wines have been produced in adherence to the biodynamic calendar and have followed the activities that are allowed only on one of the four identified days for 1. Fruit (ideal for harvesting) 2. Roots days, best for pruning 3. Flower Days when the vine needs to rest and 4. Leaf days when the vine needs water or enrichment.

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