BACK TO NATURE
Organic, biodynamic and natural. I’m not talking about shampoos. These are words thrown around a lot in the wine world and can be confusing, as they are not the same thing. They are from a similar family though. While these rather different terms do not guarantee a better wine, they do usually mean more environmentally sustainable farming. There are also increased costs of production which means only producers focused on quality would start to use them. Still with me? So let’s get into the nuts and bolts of it all.
The grapes used are grown organically and production of the wine must be in accordance with standards set by the National Organic Program (NOP).
It takes 3 years of organic farming before a vineyard will be certified and able to put the logo on their bottles.
Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner started the idea of biodynamic agriculture in the early 1920s, predating the organic farming movement by a hefty margin. Slackers.
It takes an extra 3 years on top of the organic certification to convert a vineyard into becoming biodynamic.
Biodynamic wine making is very strict in the vineyard, but does relax a bit with the rules in the winery.
Biodynamic farming is a holistic view to farming. Hippies, if you will.
Natural wine has no official certification, though many of the producers do use biodynamic farming. Natural and biodynamic wines will often be unfiltered and use very old wine making and ageing styles like amphora, which is essentially a Greek urn. What’s a Greek urn? About £10 a week. Thank you very much.
That should have cleared all that up for you. Moving on.
FLASHES IN THE PAN?
The last big ‘thing’ was orange wine and Amphora aged wines but both of these seem to have settled down. They still have cult followings and are still hip and trendy, though as they are both still very new to most of the larger wine world, they are very hit & miss in terms of quality.
Organic wines are gathering speed in the English wine-making world, with many sparkling wine-makers going down the route. Will they suffer the same fate as other ‘fashionable’ wines? Let’s see.
Introducing a new and regular feature, I’ll be giving you a more in-depth look at one of our wine-makers, so you can find out a bit more about what floats our boats. In keeping with the natural approach, here is one of our faves.
Domaine Arlaud right in the heart of burgundy are a great example of this growing movement-making top pinot. They stopped using any herbicides in 1998 to help soil quality. In 2004, they went fully organic across all vineyards and then looked for official certification in 2007. In 2009, they moved to biodynamic farming, becoming the first vineyard in Morey Saint Denis to have the biodynamic certification by Biodyvin.
Eric Rodez gathered his experience in Burgundy and as the cellar master of Krug. He took over his family house in 1984, which after a terrible vintage, changed the way he thinks about viniculture and wine-making — moving to organic farming and experimenting with Biodynamic techniques in 1989.
That’s enough bleating on. Onto the real reason you’re here.
“You’ve whetted my appetite with all this talk — what shall I buy?”
For organic wines, try: