So. I’m getting myself an education. And Dominique is taking the time and trouble to explain a lot of stuff. In particular, biodynamics.
I’m not sure whether I’m altogether convinced about biodynamics, as opposed to mere organics. The distinction requires some explanation, and that’s putting the cart before the horse, because I haven’t yet explained
why organic wine?
There are the same range of reasons that motivate people to eat organic food : health; environmental concern; ethics; taste. There is another reason which is important for me, with respect to wine : it narrows down the field.
Eliminates 95% of winemakers, in fact. I honestly don’t know where I would start otherwise.
And it doesn’ just randomly eliminate 95% – the ones that are left believe in what they are doing. They have to.
It’s hard work growing grapes organically. No weedkillers : need to plough the weeds a couple of times a year at least. No chemical pesticides : need to use expensive plant extracts, carefully targeted, against the little beasts. Sulphur and copper-based treatments are OK, against the ubiquitous mildew and fungal rots. Mostly, the focus is keeping the vines naturally healthy and strong.
It’s not only hard work, it’s expensive. AND there is no price premium for the wine. That’s right : all else being equal, an organic wine fetches the same price as its “conventional” equivalent.
That’s not right, but that’s how it is, over here, right now.
The 5% of French winemakers that do organic, are an interesting bunch. There’s another good reason for you.
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At the outset, it’s an episodic road-movie narrative. Real or ficticious? Only the CIA knows for sure (wink at
I’m a New Zealander, I’ve been living in France for nigh on twenty years. I like drinking wine, and increasingly it’s been organic.
Wine making has traditionally been a small-scale, family affair in France; the traditional vigneron is an artisan, a peasant even, and proud of it. This is less and less true in the modern world : mechanisation, chemicalisation and financialisation are driving the artisan out of the trade.
Organic wine has largely escaped from these phenomena, mostly for obvious reasons.
I have a list of organic winemakers that I would like to visit, starting last weekend, and continuing throughout the spring and summer. To taste their wares, certainly. To buy some wine, doubtless. To attempt to discern, and interpret for others, why they do what they do? That’s more ambitious. To extrapolate from this into philosophical musings about Life, the Universe and Everything? …. Steady on.