Organic wine and Belgians…they’re not best friends (just yet). It seems the Belgian consumer is still worried organic wine means unripe, sour and even stinky flavours. They don’t yet associate organic wine production to a type of agriculture that maximally respects its environment or to wines that in terms of quality equal (if not surpass) “normal” wines.
On the one hand, the wine industry itself is to blame, juggling different terms around to prove their sustainability. On the other hand, there are those producers who keep quiet hoping you’ll never really find out just how many chemicals they use in their cellar and vineyards.
We thought a little educational was in order!
When they say nothing at all…
Then we’re usually talking about the ‘conventional’ production methods which inevitably make use of pesticides and herbicides in the vineyards. It’s the only way wine growers can be ‘sure’ about their crops (high yields), their labour, their expenses …The gloomy downside: barren and lifeless vineyards, chemical residuals in our wines or higher cancer rates in some viticultural areas than in others.
When they say “sustainable agriculture”…
This means the wine grower has done whatever he can to prevent the use of chemicals by using natural alternatives, but when the risk for a bad harvest is too high, he might intervene to save his crop. Often this method is the transition to ‘certified’ organic agriculture.
If a wine is organically produced…
… you’ll see the butterflies flattering through the vines. Organic vineyards exclude the use of ANY artificial chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. The vines are treated or protected by natural elements; the absence of chemicals allows the vine to grow in a natural environment where animals and plants flourish alongside them.
If a wine is biodynamically produced…
This is organic to an exponential degree. In its essence it’s a holistic way of looking at wine production where the vine, the moon and the starts, the natural elements and man are interconnected. All the tasks in the vineyards from harvesting, pruning, etc. are guided by the biodynamic calendar. Vines are treated and protected by homemade potions and lotions and it’s not unusual to see biodynamic growers use cow horns for compost. It’s a bit esoteric, but it’s nothing the Egyptians and Greeks didn’t do and it even precedes organic farming. A lot of famous producers such as Chateau Palmer in Bordeaux are turning to biodynamics because they believe it offers the truest terroir expression.
And “natural” wine…?
Technically, wine is a ‘natural’ product cause it’s made of grapes, so ‘natural’ wine is a term that is (deliberately) a little vague. According to the natural wine movement, natural wines are wines without any sulphites. Sulphite is used to protect the wine from oxidation and to prevent it from turning into vinegar. Who wants to drink vinegar, right? Organic – and biodynamic wine production uses minimal amounts of sulphites (no headaches!) in order to guarantee aging. No smelly wines there! It must be said though that there are some terrific wines out there with no sulphites and we sincerely hope to present them to you in the very near future.
So what will Our Daily Bottle be serving you?
Only top quality wines grown in an environmentally responsible way. We are not too worried about whether or not the producers have the actual organic/biodynamic certification (a lot of them do), we care about what happens in the vineyards, so we can certify that all our wines come from sustainable agriculture. The producers and farmers we work with are passionate about their vines and treat them with the utmost respect. We truly believe that the best wines, come from the most vigourous vineyards and therefore the most natural surroundings.
But are organic or biodynamic wines always ‘good wines’? Stay tuned for our next blog post in which we explore some essential working methods necessary to produce outstanding wine.
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