Claridge’s Wine – Biodynamism – a load of old voodoo?
Organic wine in on the increase worldwide. Production is from grapes grown without synthetic fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers. The environment is respected, vines grow in living soil, full of bugs and bacteria, drawing on optimum levels of minerals. They develop better resistance to disease and produce better fruit. Biodiversity is encouraged.
Biodynamics goes one step further, by looking at the vineyard within the context of a larger environment. Homeopathic sprays and herbal preparations are used along with home-grown composts to increase fertility and protect from pests and diseases. Lunar cycles, earth rhythms and astrology are employed to ensure that events in the vineyard are correctly timed.
With biodynamic principles, the producer tries to harmonise the rhythm of the vine to bear fruit. The belief is that one vine will help another in a biodynamic landscape. My first experience of Biodynamism was at Domaine de Marcoux in Chateauneuf du Pape, some thirty years ago. The owner was a 6ft 7inch ex-Beziers rugby player. I was not going to argue with him. I came away thinking it was all a load of old voodoo, even though the wines were delicious. I have since completely changed my mind, favouring both organic and biodynamic production.
Chateau Pontet Canet, 5th Cru Classe Pauillac in Bordeaux has now moved from organic to Biodynamic. Three weeks ago I witnessed their beautiful horses ploughing the vineyard. Next door, one could see a heavy tractor spraying. Not only is the spray bad for the vines, the tractor causes soil compaction, preventing the soil from breathing properly.
• For further information see www.biodynamics.com/steiner www.organicwinefind com
My own company produces certified organic Chateau d’Auzanet, available in the Co-op from October 2016. Santé.