09 May Back to nature
At OAK N4 we list 17 bottles that are either organic or biodynamic, and we are often asked to explain what these terms mean. Here’s a quick bluffer’s guide to wines that are produced under those banners.
Organic wine – as you may well guess – refers to wines produced by organic viticulture (the growing of grapes). That means strictly controlling the chemicals that are typically used to protect the vines from pests and diseases. In organic viticulture, all synthetic treatments – such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and fertilisers – are to be avoided in the growing.
And ‘organic’ extends to the use of preservatives – such as sulphites -that stabilize wine in the bottle too, and you may have seen the term ‘No sulphites’ on wine labels. Some wines may mature and keep in bottles for decades and it’s the addition of sulphites which is how this preservation is achieved. Their use is heavily debated within the organic wine community. Without preservatives, it is generally accepted that wine should be consumed within a few years of bottling.
There is no set legal or technical basis for organic status, but growers are accredited by various associations, with certification standards varying country-by-country. There are approximately 2,000 organic wine producers around the world, nearly half of which exist as domaines (estates or chateaux) in France.
Organic agriculture is not a new concept and dates back to the mid-19th century. In 1924, a philosopher called Rudolph Steiner gave a ground-breaking lecture to launch his Agriculture Course. This set out the ecological aim that individual farms should be seen as part of an interconnected ecological system. It was the birth of biodynamics, which sounds pretty technical, but is in effect as spiritual as it is practical.
Wine produced using biodynamic principles sets out to be in tune with the potent forces found in nature, co-operating with those forces – both terrestrial and celestial – rather than trying to fight them.
This consummate respect for the land, the rhythms of the seasons and weather has an honesty that is truly holistic in its application, and while probably unlikely to be better for you – the drinker – can hardly be worse for the planet.
We recently attended the Real Wine Fair and it is truly inspiring to meet the many enthusiasts and terrific wine makers from around the world. And more to the point, organic and biodynamic wines are far more than the often perceived ‘sour grape juice’. Watch this space as we will soon be extending our organic, biodynamic and natural wine offering.
Our current list of organic and biodynamic wines:
Sancerre le Rochoy, Domaine LaPorte
Chablis 1er Cru, Vau de Vay
Soave Classico, Corte del Sole
Pouilly Fuisse – Les Grand Climats
Novas – Viognier
Vermador Tinto, Monastree – Petit Verdot
Petali Rosso – Sangiovese
Chateau D’Arcole – Saint Emilion Grand Cru
Adobe – Carmenere
Quinta de Saes
Milu – Ribera del Duero
Vina Zorzal – Graciano
Granja Remelluri Gran Reserva Rioja
Anna Maria Abbona Barolo – Nebbiolo (grown Organically, Uncertified)