Just when we thought the words organic, ecological, or sustainable were hard to understand - and even making us a little crazy - today's concept will leave you gaping.
I am talking about biodynamic agriculture, a trend originated and controlled by a company called Demeter in Germany and one that has extended through Europe, USA, Asia, and Australia, reaching the wine world.
A wine can be classified as organic as meat, egg or tomato, but it can go a step further: it can also be "biodynamic." It takes a vineyard about four years to become organic, until the soil is completely "detoxified". But, in order to become biodynamic, it needs an additional three years. In other words, biodynamic wines are organic, but not all organic wines are biodynamic.
What is so special about this practice? Biodynamic goes further than just treating the soil and vine. Biodynamic agriculture sees the ground as a complex and living organism that searches a balance through spiritual, homeopathic, and esoteric practices. It is guided by the moon and it very much trusts the interrelation between animals, people, soils, and plants to reach a self-sufficient nutrition. The ultimate result is to grow the vine with minimal external intervention, in the most natural way possible, although we can say it is extremely labor intense for the viticultor.
Vegetable and mineral "biodynamic mixtures" are used as fertilizers to promote microorganisms and organic particles in the soil, increase its life span, balance the vine through its environmental surroundings, and benefit its natural defenses. Some of the components of these mixtures can be, for example, ground quartz or different homeopathic and medicinal plants, like chamomile. One of the traditional rituals of biodynamic is, at the end of September, to bury a cow's horn filled with manure from the animals that live on the vineyard and unearth it at the spring solstice.
All wine and harvest labor are completed based on the biodynamic calendar, which means that it is led by the moon cycles and the stars. These include, for example, water and earth days in which only certain practices take place. There is even a calendar for wine consumption which takes into account the position of the moon in relation to the constellations. Therefore, the perfect days for wine tasting are the floral and fruit days when the moon is positioned by the wind and fire constellations, because it is said that the best wine sensations come to life during this period.
The vine growers who support this practice say that the result is a cleaner and more natural wine that represents the land in which it is produced. I have had the opportunity of tasting a wide variety of these wines in Bordeaux, France and, if there is something they have in common is that mineral touch that characterizes them. I have yet to taste them in a floral or fruit day.
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