Time to go Beyoooond Oooorgaaanic (use your best 40s radio space voice here). There are many agricultual practices out there when it comes to grape growing and winemaking and organic is just the tip of the iceberg. Here we have producers that take it to the next level, embracing biodynamic agriculture and rengenerative practices that, well, go beyond organic.
Before we start, a brief overview - What is Biodynamics? In a nutshell, biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition. Without going too deep (if you want to go deep, and I mean deep, check out The Biodynamic Association), biodynamics comes down to 3 key elements:
1. A biodynamic farm is a living farm, that cultivates biodiversity by bringing plants and animals together by...
2. Generating on-farm fertility through compost that is enlivened with biodynamic preparations built in rhythm with the earth and cosmos that enhance soil and plant health and...
3. Contribute to a communities social and economic health by offering regenerative solutions for the future.
In a nutshell. Biodynamics is a closed loop, ethical and holistic community and agricultural system, where the inputs are the farms outputs.
Now that we covered that, onto the wine.
1. Descendientes de José Palacios, Pétalos Bierzo, 2018 - Ricardo Perez and Álvaro Palacios put Bierzo, and the Mencía grape variety, on the map. Their trailblazing winery, Descendientes de José Palacios, is named after José Palacios, Alvaro’s father and Ricardo’s grandfather. Ricardo Perez is Spain's foremost expert on Biodynamics. He translated Steiner into Spainish, (Dr. Rudolph Steiner was the progenitor of Biodynamic agriculture). These farmers and winemakers have inspired a generation of Spainards to embrace biodynamics and sustainable agriculture. This first wine is what put them on the map. Made from 96% Mencía and 4% field blend whites, harvested by hand from 40-90 year old vines. This wine has unheard of complexity for its price and "entry-level" stature. It is silkly and soft, with just a hint of bitter tannins and an absolutely captivating aromatic purity that takes this wines to levels that are truly surprising.
2. Soléna Cellars, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir Grande Cuvée, 2019 - This just went for $20 a bottle on Black Friday, when normally it is $30. We are offering this for $22. Winery owner Laurent Montalieu doesn't embrace the spirituality of biodynamics as others have, “Both organic and biodynamic are a little selfish on my own part because I want to make a wine that has a sense of place, not because I want to wear Birkenstocks or because Oregon is a green state,” the French transplant to Oregon explained. He embraces this approach because it gives his wines a sense of place, of terroir and after all, isn't that what we are looking for in our wines? Baked cherries, warm cedar and herbs greet your nose with notes of raspberry, cranberry and florals on the palate. Classic Oregon Pinot Noir from an leading biodynamic producer.
3. Weingut Bernhard Ott, Gemischter Satz, 2017 - Austria lured me into the wine world. I studied abroad and live in Vienna my junior year of college. Vienna is one of two capital cities in the world with within their city limits, the other is Santiago, Chile. This is the wine, when in the depths and throws of the upcoming winter you need to reach for when you crave that bright, sunshine-y day. Bernhard has been praciting biodynamic viticulture since 2005 and innovated every year. He constantly changes his winemaking philosphy and approach to ensure he is making the best wines with every vintage. This wine, a speciality of Austria is not a grape variety at all. Gemischter Satz means "mixed bag or set" and is an old way of making wine, where several varities are inter-planted in the same vineyards to minimize loss of one variety or more. Today we call it a field blend, made of a variety of whites, some quite unique to Austria, we have a co-fermentation of Welschriesling, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Neuburger and Muskateller, most but not all of which are literally im gemischten Satz i.e. inter-planted. It is pleasant and green, with the brightness and crunch of the first fresh greens after a long winter. Flavors of apple, pear and Italian lemon dominate. Drink this with charcutterie, cheese spreads, grilled pork sausages, simply prepared white fish and asian cuisine.
4. Château Des Capitans, Juliénas Estate Bottled, 2017 - This is Beaujolais, a region dominated by fresh, young and racy Gamay wine. Just 3 weeks ago the first red wines of 2020 vintage were released on Beaujolais day. There are sub-regions there where Gamay can age, a little bit. This is one, and this wine is ready right now. Made from 50 year old vines which form one giant circle of a vineyard, around the 19th century castle sits at the heart of the AOC region Juliénas. This is rich, spicy and full of ripe tannins, which play well off the dense black fruit and juicy acidity. This is a spot-on wine for winter. Made by the famous Georges Duboeuf who is the Beaujolais region's most renowned négociant and is today regarded in the wine world as the "King of Beaujolais." Pair with braised lamb, slow cooked ribs, chili or aged cheeses. You can enjoy it with just a glass, but I recommend food.