24 May 2013

Organic v biodynamic wines

DiscoverVin distributes several organic and biodynamic wines. What is the the difference between organic and biodynamic wines? Are they are different to "natural" wines? 

Unfortunately due to different regulations in various countries and different agencies that enforce "the rules", it is often difficult to find universal  accepted definitions. 

However, in short.....
"organic" refers to no sprays and minimal use of sulphur, 

"biodynamic" means organic plus the use of specific production methods pioneered by Rudolf Steiner .

"Natural" means no additives whatsoever and the use of natural ferment (no added yeast or mechanical means to control fermentation- essentially fermented grape juice not intended to cellar for the long-term! 

Recently we came across a very good explanation of these terms on the wine list of the Rouge Tomate restaurant in New York City. This is a Michelin starred "Modern American" restaurant featuring local seasonal ingredients and a fantastic international wine list of mostly organic and biodynamic wines curated by sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier. This restaurant not only employs chefs but uses a "culinary nutritionist" who helps in the preparation of the dishes!

We think that their explanation of the difference between organic, biodynamic and natural wines is as good as any that we have seen, and we have reproduced it here.......
So whats all the hype about?  It is difficult to prove that organic or biodynamic wines taste better. Proponents believe that the wines taste "brighter" with better primary fruit characteristics and complexity and better reflect the terror of the site. Or in other words the practises produce more "authentic" wines. Perhaps its not necessarily the practises themselves that lead to better wines. Perhaps if a producer goes down the path of organic or biodynamic production they are meticulous and following best possible practices to produce the best possibly quality fruit from their vineyards?

Many of the producers distributed by DiscoverVin follow organic or biodynamic practises or are in the process of  "converting " to organic practise. Effectively this conversion process means that the agency granting organic status in this case, The European Commission, recognises the primary producer is now following approved pratices and after a certain number of years will be given organic status.  In France producers are given "AB" status by the Agence Française pour la Développemente et la Promotion de l'Agriculture Biologique. The producers are able to use the AB logo once they have achieved organic status. Recently they changed their logo so you will sometimes see the old one on the left (above) The new one on the right will be appearing gradually with new vintages.

The vineyards at Chateau Tour des Gendres in Bergerac. The grasses and weeds are allowed to grow, sprays. minimised, creating a vibrant natural ecosystem and forcing the grapes to compete and send their roots deep into the soils below

Our organic producers..

Chateau de Saurs (Gaillac)- converted since 2012 vintage
Domaine de l'Ancienne Cure (Bergerac)- converted since 2012 vintage
Chateau Haut Peyrous (Graves)- in conversion
Domaine Bellegarde (Jurancon)-in conversion
Chateau Bouissel (Fronton)-in conversion
Chateau Semeillan Mazeau (Bordeaux/Listrac Medoc)-in conversion
Chateau Moulin Pey-Labrie (Fronsac)- in conversion
Domaine Roche-Audran (Cotes du Rhone)

Our biodynamic producers..
Tour des Gendres (Bergerac)- converted to organic since the 2005 vintage.

Luc de Conti at Tour des Gendres supervises crushing of biodynamically produced grapes at Chateau Tour des Gendres in Bergerac

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