The biodynamics behind some great-tasting wines
A few years ago a group of respected UK wine experts were on a visit to a top Burgundy vineyard; each were given two wines at a blind tasting and asked to state their preference. The result? 12 out of the 13 tasters preferred the same wine, but what was the difference?
It turned out they were, essentially, the same wine – one produced organically, the other by an increasingly popular method called biodynamics.
The concept of organic wines is an easy one to understand – they are made from grapes cultivated without the use of synthetic fungicides, herbicides or fertilisers.
"In vineyards where the environment is respected and biodiversity encouraged, the vines grow in a living soil, full of worms and bacteria. This enables them to draw upon the optimum levels of minerals from the soil. In turn, these healthy vines develop better resistance to disease and go on to produce fruit for years to come," said a spokesman for leading UK organic wine sellers, Vintage Roots (www.vintageroots.co.uk)
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Biodynamics takes all this one stage further and almost into the realms of fantasy; if not the fantastic. Its roots can be traced back almost a century to lectures delivered by Austrian philosopher-scientist Rudolf Steiner. Central to the issue is the calendar, which divides days into flower, fruit, leaf and root categories according to the influence of the Moon and stars on the Earth's natural rhythms.
Homeopathic sprays and herbal preparations are used, along with estate-made composts, to increase soil fertility and strengthen and protect the vines.
None of which matters a jot if the wine itself tastes fantastic. Which is where I started. Yes, it might all sound a bit silly, but increasingly, internationally renowned estates are using this approach to make better wine.
You can sample biodynamic wine at a tasting at the Wellington Hotel, Howden, on Thursday, May 10, at 7.30pm. Tickets are available from Flourish & Proposer in Howden, call 01430 430006.
Where: Flourish & Prosper, Howden
Why: The blend of this stunning biodynamic red is a closely-guarded secret but it is full-bodied and elegant with notes of blackcurrant and cedar.
Where: Flourish & Prosper.
Why: Australian biodynamic white that is rounded and crisp with lots of peaches and pears; good on its own or with fish.
When: Until May 1
Why: Argentin- ian version of a classic Bordeaux blend that is robust, yet elegant with plenty of dark fruit and spice.
£7.99 (was £9.99)
When: Until May 1
Why: Terrific Spanish red made from a blend of 60 per cent Grenache and 40 per cent Carignan. Rich and robust, perfect with roasted red meats.
£6.99 (was £10.49)