Organic wines have been produced for decades , and now, some are popular. The other up-and-coming “natural” wine is biodynamic – which must be organically grown, produced and also take into consideration moon’s and sun’s position throughout the year. The positions of stars and other natural occurrences must also be considered for every step during the growing season and vinification.
Biodynamic winemakers take into account all the elements that affect both vines and wine.
The fruit-fire and flower air days are meant to work on vines (de-budding and trimming) and bottling. In Burgundy fruit-fire days occur each calendar month six to eight times, flower-air days four to eight times. They change every year. Experts publish special calendars which are followed by biodynamic farmers.
Leaf-water days require to leave vines alone and concentrate of peripheral operations such as removing cuttings from vineyards, working on trellises and cleaning barrels. These days occur five to eight in each calendar month.
Root-earth days are devoted to work on enhancing vine’s root system including replacing damaged vines, working the soil, applying biodynamic fertilisers. Root days are good for bottling red wines. There are seven to 10 root earth days in each month.
The bad period requires work unrelated to vine and wine, i.e burning cuttings, changing damaged wires and supporting stakes. In January there are two, February and March 3 each, April 4, May 1, June 4, July 2, August 4, September 7, October 5, November 3 and December none.
Under waxing moon the sap raises. During this period, wines are racked and vineyards are harvested.
Under waning moon, the sap descends i.e the vine shuts down. During these periods, replanting, trimming, de-suckering, green harvesting and soil enhancement work must be undertaken.
In the cellar, non-filtered wines are bottled. Biodynamic wines are superior aromatically and taste more complex. They display more profound taste, but texturally tend to be slightly rougher than clarified and/or filtered wines.
In 1997 during a visit 12 British wine importers were treated to blind wine tasting in the cellars of the Olivier Laflaive winery in Burgundy. Both wines were from the same vineyard, same vintage, except that one was farmed biodynamically the other organically. Participants were asked which of the two they liked best. Eleven thought the biodynamic wine tasted better, had more to offer and lingered longer. The management immediately made the decision to farm that vineyard biodynamically from then on.
Coulee de la Serrant in the Loire Valley managed by Nicolas Joly enjoys a world wide reputation for its wines, and Mr Joly is often invited to give lectures about biodynamic growing techniques.
French wineries including Boisset (certain vineyards), M. Chaputier, Domaine Zind-Humbrecht, Lafon, Trapet, and Leroy are only some of the French biodynamic wineries. Italy has several dedicated biodynamic wineries; there are two in California, one each in Chile, New Zealand and Australia.
At this rate there will many more biodynamic wineries in the next decade and wine enthusiasts will have the privileged to enjoy wines that are totally naturally made adhering to all the rules of nature.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu