Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mother Nature's Wine

The newest buzzword in the world of wine is biodynamic--a concept that takes the principals of organic wines and ups the ante. As if we needed another reason to tip back the good stuff, biodynamic wines not only do a thorough job of protecting the earth, they taste good too. (Otherwise, what's the point?)

In a recently published article in the Ecologist (April 2009), Monty Waldin, a writer and biodynamic wine grower, states biodynamic farming is one of the only sustainable methods to be proactive than reactive. Adding that growers in California might be blanketing their buildings in solar panels, but they only started doing so once government subsidies were thrown in the mix.

Biodynamic farming is done to the beat of the moon's cycles. (You read that right.) It is based in a concept of mysticm. The cow manure used to fertilize the soil is stuffed into horns and buried into the ground and oak bark fermented in the skull of a domestic animal is used in the compost along with herbs and flowers like stinging nettle, yarrow flowers and chamomile. The basic principle is to create ecological self-sufficieny while respecting the ethics and spirituality of Mother Nature.

It might all sound a bit hokey, but consider that many wine growers have claimed their near-depleted vineyards have been brought back to abundance using biodynamic principles. A taste test conducted by Fortune Magazine with some of the world's top sommeliers yielded the result that nine of ten biodynamic wines sampled were considered superior when compared to their conventional counterparts.

Of course there are some more practically based things going on as well. Fertilizer is made from cow dung and the recycled waste leftover from winemaking (grape stems, skins, pips etc). Biodynamic cows don't get BSE--they eat grass in the fields and not chewed up cow parts from who knows where. Rainwater is collected and reused (it's been said it takes seven litres of water to make just one litre of wine). And it probably goes without saying that chemicals are eschwed in every respect.

Waldin also cites the advantage of the biodynamic winery is an aesthetic one. The sight of horses plowing the fields call to mind a history that has long been forgotten (and of course, no fuel required). It's an idyllic mix that, to our ears, sounds like a new frontier. The world's favourite nectar just got even better.


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