Biodynamic wine tasting in Europe! What could be better?
Imagine strolling through vine-covered rolling hills. Touring centuries-old cellars. And winding through narrow passageways in ancient medieval hilltop towns. That’s wine tasting in Europe. It’s romantic and enchanting. Think chateaux, manicured gardens and river cruises – each an experience that pairs beautifully with biodynamic wines that sing out of the glass. You’ll feel like you’re starring in your own fairy tale.
Even better news is that biodynamic wine in Europe is making a comeback and the results are delicious. This is not airy-fairy hippy wine. Au contraire! Biodynamic wines are snapping up awards and are stealing the hearts and palates of even the most critical wine snobs. In 2006, Decanter Magazine bestowed Ms. Leflaive of Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy the honor of making the best white wines in the world. Besides, presidents have been known to consult the stars before making important decisions. So, why would it ever be odd for growers and wine makers to consult the cosmos and cycles of nature to grow the best grapes to make award winning wine?
Either way, biodynamic wines have irrevocably entered the luxury market and appear on Michelin starred restaurant wine lists. Why? Well, who wouldn’t want all of the delicious flavor and romance of fine wine without the morning after headache from sulfites? No headache? That’s certainly my fairytale ending after a three-hour wine pairing dinner.
So, why is biodynamic wine (presumably) better?
According to Adam Morganstern, editor of the Organic Wine Journal, “Biodynamics is special because it looks at the vineyard as its own ecosystem. They have a variety of plants and animals. They consider how the water flows. They think about how to attract beneficial insects to the vineyard and they strive to keep the soil healthy. A biodynamic farmer might say, ‘organic farming’ simply does no harm, whereas biodynamics actually improves the health of the vineyard.”
Daniela Paris, author of six books on wine and a wine educator in Rome at Comptoir de France waxes poetic on biodynamic wines. She says, “It’s about respecting and developing a relationship with the soil. We are what we eat and drink. You feel and taste the energy of the grape and the soil. A wine producer is an artist that transfers the secrets of the soil into the glass. The soil wants to tell a story. And the wine you make from it passes on that story.”
Marco Amato, sommelier and director at the Michelin-stared restaurant IMÀGO in Rome’s historic Hassler Hotel notes that “About five years ago, there was a tipping point and more customers were asking for biodynamic wines, especially whites. For all the enjoyment, but less of a headache. This health trend is global. But biodynamic wine was already a part of our culture as it used to be. We have invented nothing but returned to natural cycles. It’s important to remember that we are a part of the solar system.”
Nikki Wooldridge, a private wine broker and level 3 sommelier who specializes in small vintage biodynamic wines, says, “While in Provence, I’m learning about astrological farming at Les Verveines de Vaison, where they use a calendar of weather patterns, moon cycles, eclipses, and the stars to decide when and what to plant. It’s fascinating how well everything grows when it is in harmony with the cycles of nature. Amazing wines are coming from biodynamic vineyards and the wine industry is taking note – even Chateauneuf du Pape!”
Are you ready to taste delicious biodynamic wines?
While France’s Loire Valley, Burgundy, Languedoc, and Alsace are certainly the forerunners in biodynamic wineries, you’ll also find delicious must-try producers in Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungry and even Slovenia. Take note, biodynamic wineries aren’t so much in Tuscany and Bordeaux. If in doubt, look for the Demeter symbol on the bottle that authenticates the wine as biodynamic.
Here is a list of amazing and some award-winning biodynamic wineries where you’ll experience all the romance and pleasure of wine tasting in Europe.
Domaine Rossignol Trapet
Rhone Valley, France
Domaine Marcel Deiss
Loire Valley, France
Château de la Roche aux Moines
Château de Roquefort
Domaine les Fouques
Domaine des Mathouans
Azienda Agricola COS
If you’re tasting biodynamic wines for the first time here are some recommendations from the experts to get you started. Both Daniela Paris and Adam Morganstern recommend Fleury Champagne. While Adam is a fan of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht for whites and M. Chapoutier for reds. Daniela suggests Domaine Vacheron Sauvignon Blanc and Rossignol-Trapet for Pinot Noir. Marco Amato adds that for an adventure in biodynamic wines, let your sommelier guide you through the perfect pairing. And that you can definitely age biodynamic wine.
Endnotes: It was most interesting how what began as a simple discussion of biodynamic wine almost always transcended into a discourse on humanity. How we are all connected. And how when we flow with nature’s cycles, it’s a delicious co-creative experience. So, drink up. And santé!
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Image of wine via Shutterstock and friends drinking wine via (C) Atout France/Joėl Damase