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BIODYNAMIC WINE
Demeter AND Biodyvin Certified

For a tasting that will leave you with a memorable experience, let yourself be tempted by biodynamic wines. These nectars faithfully reflect the potential and qualities of their terroir. Discover on Vinatis a vast collection of quality biodynamic wines at attractive prices. Red, white or rosé wines, made in France, Italy or Chile, certified Demeter or Biodyvin, you are spoilt for choice!

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DEFINITION OF A BIODYNAMIC WINE


Taking the organic wine approach even further, biodynamic wine is produced according to the precepts of biodynamic agriculture. A far-fetched technique for some, an alchemist's secret for others, biodynamics refers to a branch of organic agriculture. Theorised by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, this system of farming is based on the dogma that the land is a living organism. Its basic principle is that Man is not at the centre, but evolves in a living ecosystem, namely the Earth.

Biodynamic wine is produced on the basis of three fundamental principles. This practice sees the farm as a whole. The vineyard is considered as a whole. According to this vision, it is important to take into account the influence of its environment on its growth as well as on its productivity. From the subsoil to the the Moon, everything exerts an influence on the life cycle of the vine.

The winegrower, but also those involved in any type of agriculture, is responsible for preserving and enhancing soil health, biodiversity as well as ecosystems. This is to ensure optimal vine development. In organic farming, the practitioner avoids treating diseases with chemicals, for example. Their objective must be the correction of organic imbalances, favouring the development of these diseases, by intensifying the life of the soil. This is done by stimulating biological and microbiological exchanges, allowing the establishment of a balanced ecosystem.

Finally, biodynamic agriculture involves a method of working in tune with the natural rhythms (influences of the Sun, Moon, planets and zodiac). The aim is to ensure the concordance of these influences, the soil and the plant. In biodynamics, the main aim is to obtain healthy and resistant plants in a natural way, giving tasty fruits.

THE BENEFITS OF BIODYNAMIC VITICULTURE

Based on a least interventionist logic, biodynamics has many advantages. By promoting the sustainable balance of the soil and crop system, biodynamic agriculture allows reducing inputs in the long term. Since it bans the use of chemicals, this more sustainable agriculture is less harmful to health, both for the winegrower and the consumer.

Biodynamic agriculture is also of interest in terms of taste. By encouraging exchanges between the plant and its environment, biodynamics produces wines that reflect a true image of their terroir. Biodynamic wines are generally richer and more concentrated in flavor. By optimising the growth of the vine and berries, the wine benefits from better ageing potential. Biodynamic farming promotes a multidimensional taste experience, enhancing harmony, balance, finesse, aromatic complexity as well as delicacy in wines.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SOIL QUALITY FOR VINES

One of the priorities of biodynamic practitioners is the importance of soil health and, in particular, the development of a healthy microbial population. Composting helps to achieve this goal. Note: if anything needs to be added to the soil, such as lime, it is customary to do so through compost. Compost heaps usually contain waste from the cellar (such as grape seeds, skins and stems), plus cow manure covered with straw and watered at regular intervals. Microbial activity in the pile generates heat and the temperature in the pile will perhaps reach 130° or 140°F (about 60°C). The difference between biodynamic compost and organic compost is simply the special preparations added to the pile. After a year or so, the compost can be used on the vine.

Some winegrowers (few in number) let the weeds grow between the vines. But that is not the case most of the time. In this case, weeding is mainly done by hand or with horses, when sheep are not grazing. Many biodynamic winemakers also advocate ploughing to break up the shallow roots and encourage the vines to sink their roots deeper.

WINEGROWERS WITH THEIR HEADS IN THE STARS: THE INFLUENCE OF THE LUNAR CALENDAR

For those who have adopted biodynamics, the growth of the vine depends on the position of the planets and the Moon in the sky. Indeed, one of the foundations of biodynamic agriculture is to work in harmony with the cosmic rhythm, particularly the Moon and Astral Cycle. Acting on the development and growth of plants, the Moon and planets also influence their reproductive capacity and maturation. Just as the gravitation of the Sun and Moon on Earth generates the phenomenon of the tides, it also acts on the plant, notably by energising the sap currents. Thus, for biodynamic winegrowers with their head in the stars, certain periods of the calendar would be more conducive to the development of the roots, others to that of the leaves or grapes. For example, the soil should be worked when the Moon is closer to the Earth and increases its influence. On the other hand, harvesting is best done when the Moon is moving away.

In order to produce biodynamic wines, it is therefore important to carry out the various viticultural and winemaking works and treatments on certain dates. In practice, the Biodynamic Sowing Calendar, devised by Maria Thun, the "high priestess" of biodynamics, should be followed.

According to the calendar created by Maria Thun, four types of periods must be taken into consideration: a more favourable period for planting, a more favourable period for harvesting fruit, a more favourable period for pruning leaves and a more favourable period for flowering. The main objective of this calendar, which is more respectful of nature, is based on total optimisation of the living being in order to produce healthier and more resistant plants. In viticulture, respecting each date indicated in the biodynamic sowing calendar promotes the full expression of the wine.

Demeter
Biodyvin

DEMETER, BIODYVIN: CERTIFICATION AND LABELS SPECIFIC TO BIODYNAMICS


Various labels exist to certify the good practice of biodynamic agriculture within an estate. These certifications are awarded once the conversion to biodynamic is applied over the entire wine estate. In particular, biodynamically produced wines can be certified Demeter. Following very precise specifications, this international label certifies products produced by biodynamic agriculture. Two types of certification are offered for wine:

  • Wine from Demeter grapes: this label is awarded to wines made from certified biodynamic grapes. However, no restrictions were made during their vinification.
  • Demeter wine: this label is awarded to wines vinified according to stricter rules than those of Nature & Progrès, favouring participatory agriculture. The level of sulphur dioxide is slightly lower.

Much more prized by many winemakers, the Biodyvin label certified by Ecocert is given to wines made from biodynamic grapes. This certification is awarded by the SIVCBD (Syndicat International des Vignerons en Culture Biodynamique; International Syndicate of Biodynamic Winegrowers) to wineries respecting the following principle: no additions, no withdrawals, no modifications. Certain enological practices are prohibited or regulated by the "Minimum Work Plan" for biodynamic winemaking practices in the vineyard.

Note, however, that there are also biodynamic wines without labels. These nectars can notably be produced by the most illustrious wine estates. Why is that? They only want to give credit for the quality of their wine to their own brand.

THE ADVENTURE OF GREAT ESTATES


Although it has no scientific basis, biodynamics has a following. Moreover, many large estates producing in different appellations have adopted this approach. These winemakers aspire to respect and preserve the life and balance of the terroirs and vineyards. For them, it is a question of reconnecting with the expression of the terroir and favouring the richness of the tastes of biodynamic wines.

Among the estates that have made biodynamic farming a real philosophy of life are:

  • Gérard Bertrand in Limoux, La Clape, Terrasses du Larzac AOCs and Aude Hauterive IGP;
  • Michel Chapoutier in Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Roussillon, Hermitage, Clairette de Die, Saint Péray, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côte Rôtie AOCs, and Ardèche and Collines Rhodaniennes IGPs;
  • Natacha Chave in Domaine Aléofane in Crozes Hermitage and Saint Joseph AOCs;
  • Clos Canarelli in Figari AOC;
  • Château Mazeyres in Pomerol AOC;
  • La Soufrandière notably in Pouilly-Fuissé, Pouilly-Vinzelles, Saint Véran, Bourgogne Aligoté, Mâcon Vinzelles and Beaujolais Villages AOCs;
  • Vincent Gaudry in Sancerre AOC;
  • Ferraton Père & Fils notably in Ermitage, Cornas and Crozes Hermitage AOCs;
  • Raymond Usseglio in Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC;
  • Château Durfort Viviens Second Cru Classé in Margaux AOC.

MICHEL CHAPOUTIER, A PIONEER IN FRANCE

In the Rhone Valley, Michel Chapoutier, a daring visionary, began biodynamic farming in 1991. Working on over 500 hectares of planted vines, of which over 300 hectares are organic or biodynamic, the Chapoutier house now represents the largest biodynamic vineyard in France. Far from being a fixed mind, Michel Chapoutier, curious about everything and a bon vivant, is always on a quest for discovery.

The revelation of terroirs and the expression of soils, particularly through biodynamics, are an obvious choice for this winemaker. For him, this expression of terroirs is above all through a living soil. Thus, in the Maison Chapoutier, biodynamic principles are passed on at each stage of the wine production chain, whether in the vineyards or in the cellars.

BIODYNAMIC WINE CONTROVERSY

Some scientists and winegrowers castigate biodynamic viticulture, criticising in particular its esoteric dimension. However, despite the criticism, some producers defend this trend, since biodynamics clearly allows restoring the balance between living things and the soil. Thanks to the techniques used in biodynamics, the quality of the soil is 15 to 20% higher than that of organically worked soils.

Without a doubt, they allow the revival of the soils, by reinforcing the microbial life. This approach favours a better understanding of the vine and the terroir by the winemaker. Allowing an expression of the terroir through the vine, biodynamics contributes to the improvement of wine quality. Biodynamic producers claim that this method improves the quality of the musts, resulting in deeper wines.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC AND BIODYNAMIC WINE?

Many people still confuse organic wine with biodynamic wine. Existing officially since 2012, the production of wines in organic agriculture, aiming to preserve the balance of nature, is governed by a European specification. The certified organic wineries can use the AB label (Agriculture Biologique; Organic Farming) on their labels.

When working the vineyard, the winegrower must not use any synthetic treatments or insecticides. In case of diseases, certified organic producers use copper or sulphur treatments. Inputs during winemaking must also be reduced. In this method, techniques to stabilise the wine during this stage are allowed by the certification (industrial yeasts, addition of wood chips, acidification or deacidification).

On the other hand, in biodynamics, based on respect for natural processes, the use of biodynamic preparations (plant-based herbal teas, horn dung) is in order. They allow the vine to be strengthened and help it to develop better. Going beyond organic farming, biodynamic viticulture is part of a virtuous circle: the search for balance between the elements (living beings, soil, water and the Moon).

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BIODYNAMIC AND NATURAL WINES?


Unlike organic and biodynamic wines, natural wines do not officially exist. No logo or legal value has been created for this type of wine. However, committed winemakers have grouped together in the Association des Vins Naturels; Natural Wine Association. They have established their own specifications mentioning in particular the obligation to harvest the grapes by hand or to produce wines without sulphites added.

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