What is Bio-dynamic?
If you’re on the outside looking in, the term biodynamic can seem a tad confusing. If you’re sat in a restaurant and start checking out the wine list and it’s throwing out all sorts of wine jargon that you’ve seen many times before but still don’t have any clue, and you think to yourself, “what does this all mean?”. Biodynamic has been in the headlines for a number of years now and the awareness of it is growing and growing, and yet the majority of people still aren’t sure of what it is, we’re here to help!
You may be thinking that it’s all voodoo rituals, magic, harvests timed with lunar movements and burying cow horns. If you’re thinking this, you’re not half wrong! Yes, there is some form of spiritualism within biodynamic farming but it’s also much simpler than that to understand.
Essentially, biodynamic farming is organic but one step further. Farmers don’t use any pesticides, no GM, no chemicals, but they view the whole agricultural ecosystem as a whole. And again you’re thinking, ‘but isn’t that the same as organic?’ With organic farming you can fertilise your vines using products bought in from outside of your vineyard, however, with biodynamic you would use animal fertiliser, compost and natural products such as stinging nettles, all things that are already present within your vineyard.
For example, at Chateau Pontet Canet (the only biodynamic winery in the whole of the Medoc) you will notice that there are little stone huts throughout the vineyard, this is where they used to keep all of their chickens, the chickens roomed around the vineyard freely, picking out slugs and insects from the vines. Naturally, the chickens would fertilise the soil and the egg whites were used to remove all of the sediment within the wines. It’s all about increasing and maintaining a self-sufficient ecosystem! Machinery isn’t used to harvest, plough, maintain or look after the vines. Everything must be done by hand, machines tend to compact and make the soil very hard for the roots to grow and reach new minerals and vitamins, as well as polluting the air, biodynamic wineries normally opt for horses to do their dirty work.
This is why biodynamic wines can often be slightly more expensive than normal wines, as they are very labour intensive and require a lot of work!
However, with biodynamic and organic wines, you are allowed to add some preservatives and additives in the wine itself, therefore biodynamic and organic techniques are the practices of farming, not so much the actual making of the wine.
In case you’re still wondering and don’t have a clue what I’ve been going on about…It’s pretty much like the good ol’ days of how we used to farm before machinery and meddling!
What is Natural wine?
So, how does a natural wine differ from organic or biodynamic I hear you ask? According to Alexandre Bain, Pouilly- Fumé’s only natural wine producer, ‘organic and biodynamic are the tools, natural is the philosophy’.
Nowadays, these tools are essentially practises of the vineyard. So by contrast, natural wines extend this philosophy not only in the vineyard but in the winery and cellar, and are far stricter in terms of what you can and can’t do!
They are all about low-intervention; there isn’t any modification of acidity, sugar level, no addition of yeasts. The wines are made as nature intended…arguably the right way!
Give these a try:
Notre Dame des Anges Collioure Blanc 2014 – £16.95
Bright straw-yellow in colour with a green tint. aromas of freshly cut flowers and touches of smoky, sea salt with a hint of white pepper. Medium to full bodied with great complexity and lovely balancing acidity on the long finish.
Running Duck Fairtrade, Cabernet Sauvignon 2016 – £8.45
Lovely pure cassis and raspberry flavours with a fresh intensity that is reminiscent of Beaujolais. The palate does not disappoint, filled with red berry fruit flavours and an impressively long finish.