Tag: biodynamic winemaking

Aug 08 2015

Biodynamic Winemaker named Winemaker of 2016 by James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion

Posted on August 08, 2015 | By merrill@cellarit.com

The uptake of organic and biodynamic winemaking practices is now a growing worldwide trend. Australian wine writer Max Allen recently reported that even in Marlborough, the epicentre for commercially grown sauvignon blanc, organic and biodynamic viticulture is being adopted on a large scale. (The Other Side of Marlborough by Max Allen, JancisRobinson, 3 August 2015).

The move away from chemically reliant farming strikes me as good news for both the consumer and the environment. Nigel Sowman, vineyard manager of Marlborough’s Dog Point, told Allen that organic conversion has been very important for improving quality and demand for his grapes.

Yangarra Estate wineryFor Yangarra, a 100 acre vineyard focussed exclusively on the varieties of the southern Rhone, a biodynamic approach has led to brighter fruit qualities in the wine, naturally lower alcohol levels and an overall impression of better ‘terroir’ or sense of place expression.

Fraser and Lane believe that improved vineyard health is another pleasing consequence of the rigours associated with acquiring and maintaining Biodynamic A certification. Because the use of industrially made chemicals is prohibited, promoting biologically rich soils and resilient vines are absolutely paramount for preventing and controlling disease.  More ethereal qualities, like positive energy and emotion emanating from the vineyard, are other fortunate by-products of a biodynamic approach according to the pair. (‘From the Earth’, Yangarra Estate, McLaren Vale, SA by The Wine Idealist, 25 July 2014)

Happy vines make happy wine!

by Merrill Witt, Editor

Photo Credit: Yangarra Estate

 

 

Read the rest

Aug 08 2012

Watching Biodynamics in Action at Cullen Wines: My weekend in the Margaret River

Posted on August 08, 2012 | By merrill@cellarit.com

When I arrived at Cullen Wines, production manager/winemaker Trevor Kent suggested that we first take a look at the vineyards. His excitement in showing off the rich moist soil of the vineyard beds was palpable.

Passionate about the benefits of biodynamics, Trevor was very generous about sharing his knowledge of the subject and explaining how Vanya Cullen and he have implemented biodynamic practices both the vineyards and the winery. Cullen was certified “A” grade biodyamic in 2004, but innovation and refinement of techniques are ongoing.

Biodynamics is based on Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science. Trevor explained that in 1924 a group of German farmers approached Steiner for help in revitalising their nutrient depleted, unproductive soils. Steiner recommended a wholistic approach that incorporated organic farming principles but also recognised that the movements of the moon and the planets have a profound influence on the soil and plant and animal life.

At Cullen, farm activities like planting and harvesting are timed to coincide with the optimal position of the moon in relation to the planets. And the biodynamic prepartions, which include naturally occurring matter like farm manure, are all prepared in a way that optimises energy forces.

The photo on the left shows Trevor standing next to a Flow Form machine, which is used to mix the biodynamic preparations with water. For the horn manure preparation (500), for example, small amounts of manure are stirred into large volumes of water before being applied to the vineyards. Steiner believed that the combination of vertical and horizontal vortices created by the special stirring process increased the vitality of the preparations and improved their effectiveness on the soils and plants. Trevor likened the preparation process to collecting fast flowing, oxygenated water from a fresh water stream. The Flow Form machine mimics the natural process of … Read the rest

Mar 03 2011

Jasper Hill Vineyard: A Pioneer in Organic and Biodynamic Winemaking

Posted on March 03, 2011 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Jasper Hill Vineyard in Heathcote Victoria was one of the earliest Australian wineries to practice organic and then biodynamic agriculture. The vineyards, first planted in 1975 on unusually deep red-coloured gravelly loams derived from the rare, Cambrian age basaltic rock, have always been free of synthetic chemicals. All vines are own rooted (ie. not grafted onto non vinifera rootstocks), mulched with organic compost, never irrigated, hand-pruned and hand-harvested.

The two most renowned wines, the Georgia’s Paddock Heathcote Shiraz and the Emily’s Paddock Heathcote Shiraz/Cabernet Franc are named after Ron and Elva Laughton’s daughters. Today Ron works with Emily on the production of seven Jasper Hill wines from three individual vineyards. Total annual production is around 3,500 cases.

Ron, who in a former life worked at Kraft in food technology, is a passionate environmentalist. As he explained to Campbell Mattinson of The Wine Front ‘Chemical free farming is one way out of our climate dilemma and can help heal our planet, because living soils absorb more carbon. Making compost and applying it to our soils at the correct time can ultimately save our soils for future generations – so our backbreaking work of making many tonnes of compost every year is well worth it; keeping our soil alive and regenerating.’  (The Wine Front, 11 September 2010)

In my mind Mattinson’s review below of the Georgia’s Paddock Shiraz 2009 speaks clearly of the benefits of biodynamic winemaking. As I mentioned my previous post, The Return to the Terroir Tasting, the use of descriptors like fresh, pure, clean and precise are common in reviews of the best examples of biodynamic wines by our most respected wine critics.

Powerful wine. Loud fruit flavours of blackberry and cranberry. These flavours have a lovely juiciness though, adding freshness to what is a rich, Read the rest

Sep 09 2010

An American Perspective on Australian Wine

Posted on September 09, 2010 | By merrill@cellarit.com

Alder Yarrow, founder and editor of the well respected American wine blog Vinography, recently visited top wine regions in Victoria and South Australia, including the Yarra Valley, King Valley, Beechworth, Heathcote, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, and the Barossa Valley.

Yarrow makes a lot of interesting and informed observations and insights. His article and the readers’ comments are well worth reading. (Some Thoughts on Australian Wine, 21 May 2010, Vinography) Here are a few highlights:

Yarrow says that he encountered a much wider range of wines (styles and grape varieties) than are typically found in the U.S. “In large part, much of this diversity existed at smaller wineries. Indeed, some of the most exciting wines I had in Australia are made by tiny producers who don’t make much wine, and export even less to the U.S.”

Yarrow remarks that he was surprised to see so much mechanical harvesting in Australia even among some of the more premium producers. As he notes, the practice is a function of a lower influx of migrant labour and higher labour costs, which makes it more expensive for Australia than other countries to hand-harvest. While acknowledging that he has had some good wines from machine-harvested vineyards, Yarrow says that “anecdotal experience leads me to believe that machine harvesting may at least limit the quality of wine, if not negatively impact it.”

The trend in Australia towards biodynamic winegrowing and winemaking was also discussed by Yarrow. He describes his conversations with winemakers about the practice, noting that many are taking a pragmatic approach to biodynamic certification because aspects of the strict certification regime are not necessarily suited to the Australian environment.  Preparation 501, for example, which requires ground quartz to be buried in cow horns in the soil and then sprayed over the vines, … Read the rest