THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY
We Must Talk About Rudolf Biodynamic Winemaking
by John Sherwin.
Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925) promoted spiritual philosophy, or in the words of the General Anthroposophical Society, sought ‘to nurture the life of the soul on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world’. He thought that we should not depend on outside ‘authority’, but rely on our own rational thought processes to comprehend spiritual experiences. OK, he was a geek and a weirdo: but then where do you place Lennon (‘Imagine’), da Vinci (helicopters), Gandhi (strange underwear) in the whole scheme of things? Steiner had an interest in lots of stuff: medicine, architecture, social activism, the performing arts, but I really don’t have the space or expertise to address such weighty matters. Biodynamic agriculture was another of his interests, and this spawned the present-‐day trend in biodynamic winemaking. This is where the cynics come down from the hills, with their sneers and chemical treatments and optimum yields and profit margins. They will tell you that agriculture based on the positions of the moon, sun and stars is bunkum. They are also perhaps the same people who ignore the fact that soil is an extraordinary structure, one which has its own natural, self-‐supporting life cycle, which has no need of unnatural, outside intervention. The idea is that there are days within the lunar calendar more suitable to one activity than another. So, there are flower days, leaf days (favourable to leafy plants like lettuce and spinach), root days (carrots, leeks), and fruit days (best for fruiting plants, including the vine). There are also red days, the vineyard employees’ favourites, when the lunar cycle allows no work to be done. To see a shire-‐horse, not a tractor, treading between the rows of vines, spreading treatments of camomile or nettles or dandelion, snorting in the early mist, guided by just the one man who has trained him and will wash him down at the end of the day is a glimpse into the past – and hopefully a sustainable future. It should be self-‐evident that simple-‐and-‐natural is better than complicated-‐and-‐chemical, but the proof is in the drinking. I’ve had some wonderful examples from Montirius (their wines from the Vacqueryas and Gigondas areas of the southern Rhone), and from Chateau Pontet-‐Canet in Pauillac. But are they really better than their non bio-‐dynamic neighbours? Personally, I think it’s too early to tell, but I also think the question is irrelevant. White guys can play the blues, and black guys can be presidents: if it works, that’s all ye need to know. These are winemakers who are taking care of their small portion of our earth. Let’s lose the voodoo and cut to the chase. Two bottles of wine of which you must buy just one to share with your family and friends. One from a vineyard where they buried the horn of a cow stuffed with ground quartz then harvested by hand by moonlight; the other from a vineyard just across from the latest version of Three Mile bloody Island. Your choice.
John Sherwin, French Wine Tours. Tel: 02 51 66 13 05 Email: email@example.com ~ www.french-wine-tours.com
Published on Jun 30, 2013