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What Is Biodynamic Wine?

What Is Biodynamic Wine?

There are a lot of buzzwords in the wine world. Some are meaningless and a whole bunch more are unnecessary. A few, however, are very much worth understanding. At the top of that list, you’ll find “biodynamic.”


While biodynamic is often one of the first words used to describe a given bottle, it’s not as cut-and-dry as saying the wine is “full-bodied” or “tannic.” That’s because biodynamic refers to how the wine is made rather than specifically how it smells and tastes in your glass. It’s a method of sustainable agriculture in which winemakers avoid chemicals and promote biodiversity in an effort to produce healthy grapes that offer an authentic sense of where they’re from.


What’s the difference between Biodynamic and Organic?


When it comes to natural wine, you can think of organic as a baseline or prerequisite. Pesticides, fungicides, and GMO yeasts are off-limits, while practices like filtering or adding sulfites are kept to a minimum. Biodynamics takes things a step further, applying all of these principles, but as a means rather than an end.


Organic farming is just one part of a broader effort to treat the vineyard as part of a holistic ecosystem that includes the land, animals, air, and even other planets. Tasks like watering, pruning, and harvesting are scheduled to coincide with cycles of the moon. Homeopathic remedies are used to treat diseases, and soil health is promoted via an abundance of biodiversity, horse-drawn plows, hand-harvesting, and some less-scientific (and not universally followed) techniques like burying cow horns filled with compost.



What do Biodynamic Wines Taste Like?


Biodynamics is a practice that can be applied anywhere with any grape. Thus, its range of flavors is as vast as those of wine in general. But asking what biodynamic wine tastes like isn’t the right question. Instead, you should ask where biodynamic wine tastes like. And the answer to that is printed right on the front label.


Every region and town and vineyard is unique, and biodynamic wines reflect those differences. Proponents would say the wine tastes how it’s supposed to taste, an authentic representation of place in the absence of people getting involved and messing it up.



Some of our Favorite Biodynamic Producers:


There are biodynamic producers in just about every region on earth, making wines in every style at every price-point. While we’re all for trying the unusual, head-scratching stuff, our favorite biodynamic wines taste similar to the best “traditionally made” wines from their respective regions. But they have added nuance and complexity thanks to the producers’ extreme attention to detail and deep understanding of the land.


Laherte Frères

Because of the cold and rainy climate in Champagne, it’s been a long-held assumption that chemicals and fertilizers are necessary. Aurélien Laherte didn’t agree. He took over his family’s 130-year-old Champagne estate in 2005, and is now at the forefront of the natural wine movement in the region.


Raul Perez

Everything Raul Perez touches – from his namesake estate in Bierzo to his joint projects around the country – becomes a standard-bearer for Spanish wine and biodynamics in general.


Château de Bonnezeaux

The vineyards at Château de Bonnezeaux were abandoned, and hadn’t produced a bottle of wine in 30 years. Then Guyonne Saclier de la Bâtie moved in and introduced biodynamics. A decade later, she’s making one of our favorite chenin blancs in the Loire (and the world).


Beurer

Biodynamics can sound kooky at times. You know what? So can the idea of a former European BMX champion making great wine in southwestern Germany. Alas, biodynamic wine from Jochen Beurer sets the record straight on both.


Comtes Lafon

In Burgundy, producers like Bachelet, Dujac, Leflaive, and Comtes Lafon prove that biodynamics can yield the best, most collectible wines on earth.



It is worth noting that getting certified as biodynamic is expensive and time-consuming, so many vineyards that follow these principles simply choose not to go through the process. Whether they’re certified or not, biodynamic wines illustrate a winemaker’s commitment to the land, the grapes, and the wine. So even if you’re uninterested in pesticides or the lunar calendar, you should be intrigued by the fact that what’s in your glass couldn’t have come from anywhere else.





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