We all love a good glass of wine. But, as with so many of the finer things in life, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are better ways to get the wines that we want than the ways that we have so far. Finding safer and more sustainable methods is a big first step, especially since grapes are among the most pesticide-laden of produce.1 Pursuing organic farming methods is one way of overcoming this contamination problem but a handful of wine producers worldwide are taking things further to produce biodynamic wine.
Put simply, biodynamic wine making involves a process that attempts to “bring the farming process more closely in tune with nature”.2 The biodynamic concept has its roots in the early 20th century with Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher. He proposed a “spiritual” attitude toward agriculture based on his desire to “bridge the gap between the material and spiritual worlds through the philosophical method”.3
In many ways, biodynamic agriculture does seem to be a philosophical framework as well as a practical one. It involves seeing farms in an extremely holistic way. The farm is viewed as a living system in itself, and so should be closed and self-sustaining.4 This self-sustainability is frequently coupled, however, with attempts to synchronize farming with the wider natural world, for example by making a concerted effort to follow the influence of lunar patterns.5
If that all sounds a little vague and airy, then take note that these views on the value of farming in sync with the natural world has extremely positive practical implications, not least because biodynamic farming is largely organic by default.6
Great emphasis in biodynamic farming is placed on the quality of soil. To those who place so much importance on a relationship with nature, it’s should come as no surprise that absolutely no artificial fertilizers are put in the soil; instead, soil is improved through a number of specialized additions like manure, ground quartz, tea and flowers.7 Likewise, biodynamic places a strong emphasis on manual plowing and weed removal rather than the more common method of using herbicides.8
The benefits of creating wine the biodynamic way extend further than the comforting lack of chemicals and adherence to naturalistic values. They are also said to taste better! And although it’s difficult to test taste using scientific evidence, blind tastings seem to show that wine aficionados would plump for the biodynamic version of a particular wine almost every time. It is also worth noting that biodynamic wines are largely fee from sulfur, which is an important contributor to those dreaded red wine hangovers.
The increasing prevalence and acceptance of these practices can only be a good thing for those that want wine that is not only delicious, but also produced within the confines of the most stringent organic principles.
We at FIELDS are aware of this too, which is why we stock biodynamic wines ourselves; wines like the delicious C'est Pas la mer à Boire, produced on a small biodynamic farm in France known as Domaine du Possible. We also stock other, differently sourced French biodynamic wines that are equally fantastic. Our 2008 Arbois Trousseau Singulier from Motigny les Arsures, for example, carries a heavenly cranberry, raspberry and almond nose and tart red berry flavor. For those who want a greater vintage, we also provide a 2003 Domaine Terre Inconnue Leonie, the depth of palate of which is matched by its luxurious nose, which is filled with delightful notes of coffee and cherry.
Hopefully, in the future, it will become ever easier to find wines as high quality as this that are also produced to our strict standards of chemical free, environmentally minded production. Until then, we hope that we can contribute by working with these conscientious biodynamic producers to keep providing our customers with wine that is as delicious as it is safe and natural.