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Biodynamic Wines Demystified (June 9, 2009)

book review
by Dean Tudor, www.deantudor.com

Biodynamic Wines Demystified (Wine Appreciation Guild, 2008, 177 pages, ISBN 978-1-934259-02-3, $24.95US soft covers) is by Nicholas Joly, one of the French leaders in biodynamic wines. He's been at it for over 25 years. It was translated from the French by Matthew Barton.

Biodynamic borders on astrology and mysticism as applied to non-human life forms, and deals with the Platonic four states of matter. This is a book about the philosophy of biodynamic considerations without the specific details that a viticulturist would need. It is an energy management system. Rudolf Steiner gave a series of lectures in 1925 indicating what is to be done by extending traditional farming practices to include interactions with the earth and the sun, the moon and stars. Winemakers must eschew all the -cides (pesti-, herbi-, fungi-) and all the artificial fertilizers. They must also not use anything that would deny the wine from expressing its own terroir, such as Rolland's micro-oxygenation, cryo-extraction, reverse osmosis, many yeast, oak chips, additives like Tanin Plus and Sinustan, enzymes, excessive filtering. If wines are to be unique and authentic, then they must show terroir and the only way to do this is to be biodynamic.

The appendices here include a list of the Return to Terroir Association members for 2007, the Charter of Quality, and a 2007 list of US Demeter certified and in-conversion biodynamic wineries, vineyards and farms. There are also 16 colour plates of photos.

The philosophy has moved along at a rapid rate. Already there are changes are in effect for the US harvest of 2008. There will be the possibility of biodynamic grapes for eating, and two levels of biodynamic wine: one from all biodynamic grapes in which the wine process can be re-jigged and sulfiting levels adjusted, and another called "Biodynamic Gold Standard" with a Demeter logo, a more strict process. Details are at www.biodynamics.com and
www.demeter.net.

Audience and level of use: Deeply concerned wine consumers, wine schools.
Some interesting or unusual facts: I always ask organic winemakers if they'd pursue biodynamic wine. Almost all of them say "No" because it would take too much more work.
The downside to this book: Apparently, the Library of Congress has no subject heading for "biodynamic" anything, just "organic farming." There are a few typos, such as "Umbrecht" for "Humbrecht." And what I found disappointing was the lack of text on what Demeter was.
The upside to this book: The philosophy and principles behind biodynamic were very well-expressed.
Quality/Price Rating: 90.

 

 

 

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