Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Biodynamic Approach in the Vineyard

It's no secret that in the world of wine the biodynamic approach to growing grapes is enjoying considerable attention. More vineyards and wineries are experimenting and adopting this way of harmonizing their production with the cycles of nature.

Today I had the opportunity to attend a biodynamic panel tasting presented by the Trialto Wine Group. Not only were there representatives from the presenters but also each winery sent one of their top people to answer questions and present individual wines. In most cases, it was the winemakers themselves.

While I usually don't do wine reviews I think a few notes about what we tasted will help illustrate what was being presented. None of these wines are from BC so that makes yet another departure from the blog theme. Let's just let that go for today.
Domaine Ostertag Heissenberg Riesling 2004 -
Baked pear and raisin with some petrol notes in the nose. Excellent tree fruit expressions in the palate with good acidity and lingering finish. Definitive Riesling.
Nicolas Joly, "Clos de la Coulee de Serrant" 2005
The nose was all baked fruit and pastry and slightly oxidised. Somewhat attractive when coupled with rich flavours of papaya, ripe apple and perfect balance of acid and residual sugar.
Chenin Blanc is the grape.
Domaine de la Soufrandiere, Pouilly-Vinzelles "Les Quarts" 2005
A vibrant nose of spice and flint. Minerally tones and balanced use of oak in the mouth. The acid is right on, the finish is long. A delicious wine.
Domain Thibault Liger-Belair Nuits-Saint Georges- 1er Cru "les Saint Georges" 2004
Opens with clove, dusty raspberries, pepper and cardamon in the nose. The flavours of cane berries are balanced against minerally/earth notes. Some austerity as this wine just begins to age. Great tannin structure. Would love to taste again in a year or two.
Felton Road, Pinot Noir Central Otago 2005
A perfume nose with plenty of rose and blackberry. I wrote rose twice in my scribblings. Tremendous fruit driven palate of rich raspberry and dark cherry. Slightly drying.
A good example of why New Zealand Pinots are rocking the wine world.
Paul Dolan, "Deep Red" Mendocino 2004
Raspberry, blackberry, violet and white pepper. A bold structured palate with big fruit, good oak integration and tannins suggesting a long life. Didn't get the exact make-up but Syrah, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah in the bottle.
Benziger "Tribute", Sonoma Mountain Estate 2003
The primary constituent of Cabernet Sauvignon makes for the tell tale briarberry notes with leather and tobacco in the wings. The flavours are rich and sinewy, lots of blackberry and tons of structure.
All the wines were produced using natural yeasts found in the vineyards and wineries. In rare cases when there is an anticipated weak natural yeast population, some winemakers said they would use the commercially prepared product. I hazard to guess that 95% of the wine produced in BC would be using commercial yeasts.
If you do the research on biodynamic vineyards and can't quite decide to do it or not, consider this:
The least expensive wine in this group retails for $49.55 per bottle. The top one was $123.00.
Two others joined the top item in the $100.00 plus category.
A quick primer on the biodynamic approach to all things grape can be had here

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