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Biodynamic Wines

In France the ‘bio’ label means organic but ‘biodynamic’ means organic plus…

Biodynamic wine making is an organic approach to viticulture, but with the added dimension of aligning many activities to the movements of the moon and planets. If you’ve got a scientific frame of mind it may all sound a bit far fetched.

However before you turn-off, why not take a few minutes to find out a bit more about the theory of biodynamic wine methods and why we should care about what they do.

Background

Biodynamics was first detailed in a series of agriculture lectures given by Rudolf Steiner over 80 years ago. It is internationally recognized as a leading organic method of agriculture. The biodynamic method involves the use of specially developed homeopathic preparations that assist in connecting the whole farm unit with the dynamic rhythms of the earth and atmosphere. So, instead of just acting on the physical, biodynamics goes one step further in both working with the living soil and the invisible energies of nature.

Any connection between the movement of the planets and wine production sounds tenuous at best, until you remember that we, like all other living creatures, are impacted by the cycles of the moon and sun in terms of our everyday lives. So, there may well be more science to biodynamic theory than you first realize.

Bio – why we should care

Irrespective of the theory, there are a number of very sound reasons why we should care about “bio”.

Firstly there is the small matter of results. Top Burgundy growers such as Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leroy and Domaine Leflaive use biodynamic methods, and Louis Jadot is increasingly moving in that direction.

In addition to the results if you also have an interest in the world at large, then these individual winemakers have a lot to offer:

  • Biodynamic producers place huge emphasis on running their vineyards on natural lines, with great respect for the environment;
  • Increasingly we all want to have utmost confidence in the source and purity of the food and drink we consume. With biodynamic wines you can be confident that you are drinking a natural product that fully reflects the specific characteristics of the locality where it is produced;
  • Biodynamic producers are people with great passion and dedication for what they do. This effort is fully reflected in the quality and value of the wine you taste.

From a Burgundian Perspective

They’re not shouting about it but the Burgundy wine producers are farming biodynamically more and more. Pierre-Henry Gagey of Louis Jadot says: ‘We’d never put organic on the label. We’re not doing it for reasons of marketing. It’s not that we’re purists, we’re just doing it in an organic spirit. And we’re doing our best to go in this direction. We don’t use herbicides, we don’t plough too much, we plant grass between the rows, and we work with natural, not synthetic products.’

Technical Director of Louis Jadot, Jacques Lardière who retired in 2012 after a highly respected career in the wine trade, has always endorsed the biodynamic principles. He has a profound belief in cosmic and terrestrial energies. A spirituality, not at all religious, pervades his winemaking and his life. ‘When you’re open to the rhythms of life, you don’t need a calendar,’ he says.

Intent on producing wines that are reflections of their terroir, fertilizers are out. ‘In a fertilized vineyard, the roots don’t have to delve deeply, and all the character of the terroir is lost’ Hand picking and hand sorting, infinite care and attention plus a feel for nature is the message.

Small producers have now taken up the cudgel. A name to look out for is Domaine Ballorin & F
based in Morey St. Denis in the Côte de Nuits. The Domaine run by Gilles and Fabienne Ballorin came into being in 2005 and their wines are already receiving good reviews. 'The grapes are good if the soil is healthy', says Fabienne, 'sometimes we can smell the life in the soil'.