Biodynamic farming is an ever-growing phenomenon. This is both in the wine world and other forms of farming. While you may see the term ‘Biodynamic Wine’, you may not know exactly what it means.
Biodynamic wine in the simplest sense is wine that is produced by biodynamic farming principles. Again, this could leave you asking what biodynamic farming principles are.
Well this article can serve as a one stop shop for biodynamic wine. We will take you through the history of the biodynamic farming movement, how it differs from ‘standard’ organic agriculture, as well as a look into how it applies to biodynamic wine.
Then, of course we will leave you with some great recommendations for biodynamic wine as you’ll no doubt be keen to try some once you know exactly what it is!
So, let’s look into this exciting movement in the world of wine.
Biodynamic farming was founded by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. He was a scientist and philosopher of the time who was known for a ‘spiritual-scientific’ approach. The idea being that western civilisation was on a fast track to destruction if we didn’t try and understand nature holistically.
By the time in history, a mechanistic view of nature had begun to develop. In this approach there was no intrinsic relationship between humans and the natural world around them. Humans were inevitably placed first and nature was just a means to an end in order to further our own aims.
This meant that artificial fertilisers and pesticides grew in use. The health and fertility of the soil and surrounding area were now secondary to ensuring high yields of crops.
Here in lay the issue for Rudolf Steiner. By viewing nature as a means to an end, we would do irreparable damage to the natural world. His view has only found greater traction as time has gone on and the man-made effects of climate change are plain to see.
So, he developed the biodynamic approach to farming, which actually predates the modern organic approach to farming. It is a holistic approach to farming and viewing the earth itself as a living organism, along with the individual creatures and plants which inhabited it. By following lunar patterns, he proposed optimum times for planting and harvesting.
He also highlighted the importance of biodiversity. For example, a vineyard must contain vines. However, the vines will benefit from other crops being planted. These could be olive groves or simply flowers.
The diversity point goes further. Animal husbandry is also crucial to the biodynamic approach to farming. Biodynamic farmers will often keep bees on the farm. These can help pollinate plants. You may also have sheep on the farm. They can help prune dormant vines, or fertilise the soil.
All this points to the central concept behind biodynamic farming. That is the fact that any single crop is not more important than the other. You want the whole area to thrive and each individual element will thrive together.
So, with that in mind, let’s look at how biodynamic farming applies to the world of biodynamic wine.
So, from what you’ve read above, you should have a relatively good idea of the general themes behind biodynamic wine.
The vines health is crucial for wine. However, they shouldn’t be put ahead of the health of the vineyard as a whole. So, while we want clean and healthy grapes to be safe from pests such as phylloxera, they won’t utilise artificial pesticides. This is because they’d run off into the soil and surrounding area. This could harm the health of the vineyard as a whole, which could lead to a negative impact on the biodynamic wine.
Then, as we’ve touched upon, winemakers will promote biodiversity. You’ll often see birds and sheep fluttering and trotting through the vines as a means of maintaining the overall health of the vineyard.
It is also common practice for winemakers to plant more than just vines. Olive groves can be found in vineyards across the world. It could even be that grass is simply let to grow. These cover crops can provide different nutrients to the soil and make a good source of grazing for other animals.
This small example can really help to bring out the thinking behind biodynamic farming. Vines aren’t sprayed with artificial chemicals. So, the rivers and surrounding grass aren’t polluted. This means that other crops can thrive. Olives, flowers and grass. The animals that also call it home can then feed on these and help to pollinate and fertiliser the area which in turn benefits the vines.
All the elements are in it together and if you want healthy vines, you should be taking every step to make sure all the surrounding players are supported.
How Does Biodynamic Wine Differ From Organic Wine?
It’s clear to see that organic and biodynamic wine are similar. They both place a great emphasis on the environment and maintaining as natural of a process as they can. They look to maintain the long-term fertility of the soil and exclude the use of artificial herbicides and pesticides, with an emphasis on low-intervention practices. However, they are not carbon copies of one another. There are some notable differences between these two approaches to farming. Let’s look at them now.
One difference is that organic wine production can include a number of added sulphites and additional yeasts. This isn’t the case with biodynamic wine.
As an example, in the EU, organic dry red wine can have up to 100 milligrams of sulphites per lite. You are still permitted to also add small levels of sugar and tartaric acid when the wine is fermenting.
This is absolutely not to say that organic wine is bad. In fact, it has less preservatives and sulphites than conventional wine. It is a more natural product. Rather, biodynamic wine goes one step further. No synthetic agents can be used in the process of making wine. Whether it is, in the vineyard or the winery.
The Benefits of Biodynamic Wine
It goes without saying that biodynamic wine has benefits for the environment. However, is there anything else that biodynamic wine can offer? Let’s take a look.
Does Biodynamic Wine Taste Better?
This may seem an interesting question. Obviously, some would scoff at the idea that something like biodynamic farming would make a wine taste better across the board. Indeed, surely the wines of Château Latour in Bordeaux or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Burgundy taste the best and they aren’t biodynamic wine?
Although, some would claim that biodynamic wine has a more authentic taste. It may not be more complex or intense, but it can give a truer reflection of terroir.
Conventional wines may use artificial chemicals, sugar, sulphites, added yeasts or other such processes to change and alter the flavour of the wine. Biodynamic wine doesn’t have these factors. You’re simply getting the natural grapes into the winery with minimal intervention. They have a real sense of place.
Does that mean they ‘taste better’? Not necessarily, personal preference is important above all else. The key point here is that you’ll be getting a unique flavour reflective of the region and the grapes that go into a bottle of biodynamic wine. As opposed to what the winemaker, or even consumers, want from a bottle of wine.
No Hangovers With Biodynamic Wine?!
Again, this is a matter of great debate. If you drink a bottle of biodynamic wine, you’ll more than likely end up with a big old hangover. Everyone metabolises alcohol differently and if you drink too much then you will get a hangover. It’s your body telling you not to have too much of a good thing.
However some believe that, beyond the actual alcohol, hangovers can be exacerbated by toxic chemicals in the production process, or indeed by the level of sulphites. Sulphites can cause adverse reactions in some, so wines with less sulphites will be kinder on you.
Again, this not an exact science. Too much wine equals a hangover. However, maybe a glass of biodynamic wine won’t leave you feeling quite as fragile the next day!
Top Recommendations for Biodynamic Wine
We can’t leave you without some of our top picks for biodynamic wine. Get sipping on these and do your bit for the environment!
First up, we have a barn-storming bottle of red from organic, biodynamic family winemakers at Eudald Massana Noya. They have been working in that Penedès region of Catalonia for over 300 years, where their farmhouse has been passed through 9 generations of their family.
This particular wine is a classic Bordeaux blend coming straight from northern Spain. It blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot into a wine with a deep dark red colour that boasts an array of complex flavours.
You’ll note plums, cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant. Then, notes of pepper and cinnamon through time spent in oak. Finally, just delicate notes of damp forest floor will begin to show as the wine displays some tertiary notes through bottle ageing.
This particular wine is available to our wine club and wine subscription members for just £14.21! Buy online now.
Next, we’re onto a 100% Semillon white wine. This one comes from Château de la Vieille Chapelle. They were founded in 2006, in the Fronsac district on Bordeaux. All their wines are organic and biodynamic with no additives, fining or filtration.
The end result is something spectacular. A glorious gold honey-like colour with a nose that matches. Honey, white flowers and ripe stone fruit all present themselves with this wine. Then, the palate delivers more stone fruit notes, (particularly of apricot and peach), then just a hint of grapefruit in a citrus strong and fresh finish.
This particular wine is available to our wine club and wine subscription members for just £10.46! Buy online now.
Nothing like a bit of organic, biodynamic and vegan fizz to round things off! This particular tipple from Weingut Gysler is a traditional method Blanc de Noir from the Rheinhessen region of Germany, which uses 100% Pinot Noir grapes.
The end result is absolute decadence. It is still crisp and acidic with a refreshing finish, but it also has a real intensity of flavour that many wines struggle to match. A floral nose of white flowers, with touches of red cherry and brioche. Then, lively citrus fruits dance on the palate with more tart red fruit notes.
This particular wine is available to our wine club and wine subscription members for just £10.46! Buy online now.
If these don’t quite tickle your fancy, then be sure to check out our online store. We have a whole heap of biodynamic wines and there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. You can browse our collection of biodynamic wines here.
Remember, anyone who joins our wine club or monthly wine subscription can save 25% on all biodynamic wines on our site.
If you’d like to learn more about our wine subscription, then click here. You can get delicious wines delivered to you each month, from our cellar. This comes complete with a magazine packed with great content on wine, special offers and tasting notes for the wines! You can also get 50% off your first box with code MW50.
If you’d like to learn more about our wine club, then click here. With our wine club, you pay a fixed amount each month. This starts as low as £20 and can be used to purchase all our wines at subscriber price! Start saving on wine 365 days a year.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to all things biodynamic and are ready to take a deeper dive into the world of biodynamic wine.
If you’d simply just like to learn more about wine from the comfort of your own home, be sure to check out our online blog and sign up to our mailing list. We’re always looking to teach people about different regions, grape varieties and producers. Beyond that, you can expect to find a whole host of playlists, cocktail cards and recipe cards packed full of wine pairing ideas. There might even be some special offers along the way so make sure that you don’t miss out!
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