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Biodynamic Wines - Wines in harmony with nature

Wine Styles

Last week I was writing about organic wines, but there is a movement - especially strong among French growers - for biodynamic wines. Biodynamism has all the rigours that are applied to organic growing, but has a whole raft more on top of those. For these holistic growers their crop, their management of it, and their ultimate vinification of it is ruled by the moon.

Last week I was writing about organic wines, but there is a movement - especially strong among French growers - for biodynamic wines. Biodynamism has all the rigours that are applied to organic growing, but has a whole raft more on top of those. For these holistic growers their crop, their management of it, and their ultimate vinification of it is ruled by the moon. For them the rhythms of nature are integral to what they do, their growing crop is not seen alone, but in context of all the crops in the immediate area as well as its balance with indigenous wildlife and local flora. Their search for harmony within all of these factors ensures that for them minimal intervention is the desired goal.

Without ever having heard the word 'biodynamic' the winemakers in my little Italian village have known since Roman times that you can only rack wine when the moon is waxing - experience and tradition tells them that doing the job when the moon is waning will spoil the wine. I suppose it's not so hard to believe that the moon can affect a large barrel of wine, after all, if it can move whole oceans around and give us tides, why not an effect on a little wine?

Still, biodynamism is definitely at the extreme end of the belief spectrum. It has its own peculiarities, no doubt. I remember a dinner last year at Clos de Vougeot, a great Burgundian vineyard that has many owners, some possessing just a row or even half row of vines. Here, there are owners who can claim that their row of vines are 'biodynamic' or 'organic' while the row immediately alongside is not. Before anyone takes any of this seriously, this kind of nonsense will need sorting out.

Rarer still are the 'vegetarian' wines. Now we all know that wine isn't made from animals, but in rare instances some animal products can be used in the vinification process, specifically the process known as 'fining', which is clarifying wine. Occasionally isinglass is used, which is made from fishes' swim bladders. It doesn't remain in the wine, but purist vegetarians like Vegans don't even like the fact that isinglass has been in contact with the wine. A similar reasoning applies to egg white which is sometimes used for fining and also to gelatine, which is made from rendered animal protein. However nearly all commercial wines are fined with a kind of clay, called Fullers' Earth or Bentonite and that's what is used in 'vegetarian' wine.

Recommended wine

Arcano Chianti, Cecchi, 2002

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