Organic & Biodynamic Alsace
You problably heard about organic and biodynamic wines for a few years now. But do you know exactly what the fuss is about? Do you know the difference between the two? And more importantly, in which region of France you can find these wines?
Let's break it down together!
Organic vine-growing is based on overall reasoning which takes into account all the interactions between the earth, water, plants, air, fauna and flora. The main idea that it is doesn’t work to fight against the vineyard enemy, but to contain them by recreating the balances, reactivating soil life, reinforcing the natural resistance of plants and giving a helping hand to natural cycles. It notably forbids any usage of synthetic phytopharmaceutical molecules. Organic vine-growing, in fact, endeavours to understand the meaning and scope of all wine-making practices in connection with the ecosystem-related links. This understanding is made clearer not only through ancestral wisdom and practices, but also through acquiring more recent findings.
It is however, rigorously regulated. To boast the mention wine made from organically-farmed grapes, wine-makers must comply to rigidly-established regulations accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture and the European Union. With these regulations, wine-makers undertake to notably manage their vines using zero chemical fertilisers or synthetic pesticides, and are subject to regular inspections by certifying bodies approved by the Public Authorities.
'Must', the freshly pressed grape juice, containing the skins, stems and stems of the grapes, from organic grapes is vinified and aged using this same overall mindset and with equal respect for the vines. The cellar master must also reduce their actions to a strict minimum to preserve the natural evolution of wine, and use a minimum amount of sulphur required for good preservation.
Biodynamic viticulture explained:
Biodynamics is, in fact, one of mankind’s oldest farming methods. In biodynamic viticulture, the vineyards, as well as the entire property, are viewed as "closed living organisms," where fertility and feed come from within the farm rather than from the outside. Every component, including the earth, cosmos, plants, animals and human beings, work together with the idea of being a self-sustaining entity. As a holistic system of farming, biodynamics nurtures the soil through the application of natural “preparations”, made by the vigneron themselves, that consist of natural animal, mineral and plant extracts.
Furthermore, and here’s where it gets a little controversial (some would say bizarre), biodynamic philosophy believes that spiritual and cosmic elements, such as astrology and the lunar calendar, affect the soil and plants. Therefore, while not strictly required for biodynamic certification, the execution of tasks like planting, harvesting, and bottling take into account cosmic principles.
But do biodynamic wines taste better?
The increase in biodynamics, particularly in wine growing, is driven by the enthusiasm of those practitioners who are seeing positive results: healthier vineyard conditions with higher soil quality and better tasting wines.
While the benefits of biodynamic farming are not yet fully understood and more research is needed, observational evidence shows that it enhances the life of the soil which then extends to the improved taste of the wines. Ask any winemaker who has converted their vineyards to biodynamic practices and they will tell you their grapes have a better quality of juice and, from this, wines that reveal more depth and greater expression of place. Biodynamics adds freshness, and a tangy and mineral sensation to the wine since the nutritional value is improved, it’s sure that the grape and therefore the resulting biodynamic wine both have more taste, and more characteristics of their terroir.
Biodynamic wines in Alsace
Leading the biodynamic charge is Alsace, where some of the most exciting wines in the world now come from vineyards that are worked biodynamically, and many of them can be found in here. The region accounts for 12.8% of France’s certified biodynamic vineyard area, even though Alsace represents less than 5% of the country’s vineyard acreage, at roughly 39,000 acres. The area’s scenic backdrop of steep mountains and quaint fairytale-like villages sets the stage for a passionate winemaking community that is considered one of the most ecologically committed in the world. Alsace’s long standing respect of nature and the environment is evident by the high percentage of wineries that practice organic and biodynamic viticulture.
Check out our producers from Alsace with organic and biodynamic wines