Everything You Need to Know about Biodynamics

Posted October 17, 2014

WineLibrary Staff


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by Stephen C. Fahy DWS.

Brilliance is mainly experienced first through one of your five senses.


Think about that for a second. It’s an idea so simple as to be surprisingly profound. Whether it is a visual work of art or a finely composed piece of music, brilliance often reaches the soul through it's windows, i.e. your senses.

In the world of wine, one of the most extraordinary (and controversial) ways that I’ve witnessed brilliance has been by experiencing wines made biodynamically.  An ecological and even spiritual philosophy, biodynamics is practiced by a devout - and ever-growing - group of growers and winemakers. The methods may be controversial, but to my mind, the results speak for themselves.


What is biodynamics and how did it start?

Right around the time of NYC's first Macy's Thanksgiving Parade (1924), a happy-go-lucky Austrian philosopher named Rudolph Steiner conducted a groundbreaking series of lectures in Germany that later formed the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of biodynamic agriculture. His thesis: Treat the farm as one organism, something that should not only be self-sustaining, but self-enhancing. In practice, this sounds a lot like Organic Viticulture, and to a large extent, it is, maximizing on the farm's self-sustaining capacity to produce its own plant food and fertilizer without the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. But here's where it gets interesting: among many other things, the biodynamic farmer uses specific herbal and mineral methods to enhance the vitality of the vineyard in a cosmic sense. For example, they bury cowhorns packed with ground quartz in specific locations throughout the vineyard to give life back to the soil after a harvest. In addition, biodynamic farmers follow a very proscribed astrological calendar in order to schedule critical agricultural steps such as sowing, plowing and harvesting.


How do I know if my wine is biodynamic?



 By today's standards, many of the greatest producers on the planet employ Biodynamic principles in both the vineyard and in the winery: Just a few, they include Nicolas Joly, Quintessa, Domaine Leflaive, DRC, Zind Humbrecht, Cayuse, just to name a very few. These wines must be certified by Demeter, the market's regulating body for certifying biodynamic wines. If you see the image to the left, you know you have a biodynamic wine.





Does it actually work?

When asked if it works, I have to offer a resounding YES, if my senses are to be any judge. When I visited Benziger Family Winery several years ago to taste though several blind vertical flights of their wines, I was floored by the difference in quality over the course of the winery's lifespan. What emerged out of the boring wines of 5+ years ago (while the winery was converting into its modern day showcase) I felt was tired, however when I had them today, it was a mind-blowing, eye-opening opportunity! There is a comparatively significant uptick and purity to the wines, such as with Zind Humbrecht and Domaine Leroy that is unmistakably brilliant in character the moment you begin to experience it.

Product Label.

Quintessa Red

95 Connoisseurs Guide to Wine

Item: 76749

750 mL

Retail: $208.99

$139.98 per btl