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01.21.2007

WBW#29 (Biodynamic Wines) Roundup Has Been Posted

wbw_icon.jpgNearly forty bloggers from around the world participated in this month's virtual wine tasting event known as Wine Blogging Wednesday. For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is hosted by a single blogger who chooses the theme, and then on the appointed Wednesday, anyone who wants to participate posts a review of a wine meeting the theme.

January's event theme was biodynamic wines and was hosted by Jack and Joanne over at Fork & Bottle. Jack is a friend of mine and has been a devotee of biodynamic wines for a long time, so the theme didn't come as much surprise when I heard he and his wife were going to be the hosts for the event.

Biodynamic wines are, of course, made according to the methods and prescriptions of Rudolph Steiner, who essentially codified and documented the various farming practices that currently make up the Biodynamic method. Steiner, and biodynamics get a lot of grief from folks like me for being based on thinking like this:

"Go to a museum and look at the skeleton of any mammal and go there with the consciousness that in the form and configuration of the head there is working above all the radiation of the Sun...as it pours in the mouth. A lion exposes itself to the Sun differently from a horse. The forming of the head and that which immediately follows the head, depends on the way the animal is exposed to the Sun. [The] sunlight thrown back by the Moon is quite ineffective when it shines on to the head of an animal. There it has no influence. The light that is rayed back from the Moon develops its highest influence when it falls on the hinder parts of the animal.... This will enable you to discover, from the form and figure of the animal, a definite relation between the manure...and the plants of which the animal is eating. Thereby [the animal] will provide the very manure which is most suited for the soil on which the plant is growing." (Agriculture Course, Lecture Two, June 10, 1924)
Cosmic pseudo-science aside, two things are very clear about biodynamic agriculture and biodynamic winegrowing in particular: more and more winegrowers are switching to biodynamic, and there are some undeniably fantastic biodynamic wines out there. It's pretty clear that biodynamics works, though less clear exactly why, and even less clear which parts of it work and which parts are new-age hokum.

Anyone interested in great wine should definitely be interested in biodynamic wine, and you'll be hard pressed to find a better way to start exploring it than the wine reviews that are part of this month's Wine Blogging Wednesday roundup. From Pinot Noir to Cabernet to Riesling to Syrah and Rhone Blends, bloggers reviewed biodynamic wines to fit every taste and budget. Enjoy!

Comments (64)

Bradley wrote:
01.21.07 at 10:42 PM

I'm heading to a biodynamic meeting of some sort on February 17. I'm open-minded but if I hear one thing like "stuff a ram's horn with fresh manure and bury it pointing east at midnight of a full moon" I'm going to bolt for the lobby.
I'll update you accordingly.

Alder wrote:
01.21.07 at 10:47 PM

Bradley,

Actually it's a cow's horn (or a the bladder of a red deer) and you should be warned -- if a winery calls itself biodynamic it uses such preparations -- either made on premise, or purchased from "official sources." Be prepared to talk about how silica crystal channels the energy of the cosmos. I kid you not.

Bradley wrote:
01.21.07 at 11:25 PM

Oh man!
I hope there's a lunch included.

Erika wrote:
01.22.07 at 6:23 AM

As long as we are making strides toward organic grape farming and wine producing, I don't care what goofy beliefs they have. Have you seen the stats for the amount of pollution in CA alone from wineries?

Dan G Erken wrote:
01.22.07 at 10:59 AM

Erika,

I have not seen the stats for the amount of pollution in CA from wineries, but I'm interested in them. Would you share them?

el jefe wrote:
01.22.07 at 9:27 PM

Consider instead that if a winery is willing to make the commitment to such an intricate methodology, whatever the methodology, it is a winery that is going to pay more attention to what is going on in the vineyard.

Perhaps it is this attention that is producing good results, rather than poopy horns?

Alder wrote:
01.22.07 at 9:33 PM

Jeff,

This is definitely one of the truisms of biodynamic viticulture. No matter what else they are doing, biodynamic farmers spend an awful lot more time walking their fields than anyone else. Of course, that can't be the whole story, but it definitely helps.

St. Vini wrote:
01.24.07 at 12:07 PM

"The cow has horns in order to send into itself the astral-ethereal formative powers, which, pressing inward, are meant to penetrate right into the digestive organism. [...] Thus in the horn you have something well adapted by its inherent nature, to ray back into the living and astral properties into the inner life"
- Steiner

Lo these many years have I lamented mine own lack of horns.

V

Jerry Murray wrote:
01.24.07 at 1:30 PM

With regards to "Winery Pollution" just because grapes ( from vineyards ) are biodynamically grown does not mean the wine is made in a way consistent with 'green' practices. What happens in the vineyard, from the stand point of philosophy, has nothing to do with what happens in the winery.
Also, biodynamics isn't necassarily the most sustainable farming method. They permit the use of large amounts of Copper Sulfate ( read HEAVY METAL ) as a fungicide. Organic growers are also permitted to use it. Other certifying agencies ( such as LIVE in oregon ) restrict its use. My advice is read between the lines, no farming method is perfect. Don't believes the hype and support growers committed to high quality and sustainable winegrowing practices. Great wines are made from great grapes which are grown my great farmers; as yet no agency certifies farmers as great.

Carlos Carvajal wrote:
01.29.07 at 4:29 AM

I have the great luck of being in France doing a Master of Wine and with the class we've visited many wineries that practice Biodynamics, and one of the best answer I've got about the subject was at the Domaine Daviau at the Loire Valley: "....if it works for us it' great, but we dont want any publicity about that because it's not easy to understand for the most of people, but the only fact is that we have less problems in the vineyard and less necesity of using other means to solve them....". Of course if you want to put on practice the biodynamics you should be shure that you risk a part of your production when a problem arrives. I find very interesting to try to comprehend the enviroment and work with it, trying to adapt the practices to it,maybe it is the placebo efect but the people who are doing it are most of them happy.

Nancy wrote:
01.29.07 at 9:49 AM

During a brief stint working for Joseph Phelps, the vineyard manager commented that while some of the practices may seem a bit "out there," they think overall it's a good thing because it creates a sort of calendar of vineyard activities for them. Things are less likely to be overlooked. Don't think they're all biodynamic yet, but seem to be headed that way. Nancy

Alder wrote:
01.29.07 at 9:54 AM

Wouldn't a day-timer work just as well? No need to bother with keeping track of which constellation Jupiter is in...

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.