Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.
User avatar
User

Daniel Rogov

Rank

Resident Curmudgeon

Posts

12957

Joined

Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:10 am

Location

Tel Aviv, Israel

Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Daniel Rogov » Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:30 am

Yesterday (Wednesday, 26 August), much of my morning was devoted to a tasting at the headquarters of the boutique importer Giaconda. The tasting was entirely of wines that were made according to the principles of biodynamics. The tasting was splendid, the company was equally splendid and our discussion, at times quite lively circled about the various controversies of biodynamics a subject that invariably stirs a heated conversation. If you find long discussions tedious, just skip the following and jump to the tasting notes.

As to biodynamics, I agree with long-time forum member Mike F. who once wrote that one explanation he found "…on biodynamic farming is seriously bizarre. It has all the hallmarks of pseudoscience, combining ravings from the realm of fantasy fiction with a sprinkling of apparently scientific terminology".

On the other hand, and still in agreement with Mike, I agree that while one can present biodynamics in "mystical/religious terms, but if you read through the nonsense coating, you will find that biodynamics goes far beyond mere organic farming. Organic farming demands the ban of non-organic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides and is based on sound scientific-farming methods. Biodynamics however demands that far more “rules” be followed and because some of these have a rather mystical touch to them, many tend to reject them. There are, for example, references to the phases of the moon, the vernal equinox and even astronomic charts. Like organic farming, biodynamics forbids the use of chemicals in treating soils, plants and insects. In biodynamics, which is sometimes referred to as “spiritual farming”, far more is required. Farmers are required to make all of their compost only from materials grown on their property. What this means, for example, is that farmers plant crops for their animals to eat and then use the waste of the animals as fertilizer.

With specific regard to vines, this means that in order to create a self-sustaining environment, one must also raise animals, plant olive trees, shrubs, fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, the idea being to develop a culture in which “life is at ease with itself”. One example often given is the planting of certain kinds of fennel plants, because those plants in turn attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs which in turn eat other insects that might in their own turn, harm the vines.
Fair enough for who can complain or wonder about nature and man living in harmony. Nicholas Joly, many of whose white wines have been rated as among the best in the world, was a firm believer in biodynamics but never claimed that his wines were great because of his beliefs and practices. He did, however, feel strongly that his goal was to “reverse the effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the world’s vineyards by allowing the soil to regenerate its natural energy”. Joly, a firm believer in terroir, also felt that chemical agents have destroyed the soil, removing from it the micro-organisms that encourage growth. “For decades we have been pumping the soil full of [chemicals],” he said on a visit to the United States. “In doing so, we have destroyed the micro-organisms that lie in the soil, nourish the vine, and give each wine its own individual character.”

Although I cannot personally accept the metaphysical or religious connotations of biodynamics, I find that the movement in practice, as it relates to people, animals, crops, the earth and nature in general is an entirely positive movement for those who feel comfortable within its framework. Nor can I reject Joly’s claims that “…the spiritual concentration of energy, spending that much more time on your farm … all this leads to a product that is healthier and more flavorful” and that “the best fertilizer any farmer can put in his vineyard is his footsteps”.

The subject of biodynamics was related to on the "old forum" on several occasions, the first and possibly most comprehensive thread, from 2002 being found at http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zerothread?id=989
Beyond discussion, my notes for the wines tasted yesterday follow. The notes speak for themselves but before that one major note on my part, that to the effect that biodynamics or not, each of the wines tasted reflected in almost exquisite ways the terroir of each region. More than that, each wine most definitely carried the signature and reflected the philosophy of its winemaker.

My thanks to Anat and Rafaella of Giaconda for their courtesies during my visit (they supply good espresso and even allow me to steal an occasional cigarette while standing at an open window in their kitchen). As always the best way to contact Giaconda is by telephone to 03-6022746. See also their full catalogue and other information at their web site at http://www.giaconda.co.il

Best
Rogov

Weingut Peter Jakob Kuhn, Riesling, Drei Trauben, Trocken, Rheingau, Germany, 2006: Deep almost burnished gold in color with orange and green reflections, showing crisp minerality and generous, lightly peppered apples and summer fruits, those with appealing overlays of oyster-shells. Categorized quite accurately as spitzenwein which translates into "a top quality wine". Drink now-2013. NIS 221. Score 92. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)

Weingut Wittmann, Riesling, Aulerde, Grosses Gewachs, Grand Cru, Rheinhessen, Germany, 2007: Deep polished gold in color, a ripe and aromatic wine showing rich and round. Needs time to open in the glass but as it does shows a generous array of tropical fruits, apricots and citrus. Dry, firm and focused, showing appealing peppery notes that linger nicely on a long finish. Approachable and enjoyable now but best from mid-2010-2014. NIS 260. Score 93. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)

Domaine du Closel, Chateau des Vaults, La Jalousie, Savennieres, Loire, France, 2006: A traditional Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, showing stony minerals and summer fruits, those complemented nicely by hints of cardamom (Orly – hehl) and ginger. Drink now or in the next year or so. NIS 117. Score 89. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)

Domaine Nicolas Joly, Roche aux Moines, Clos de la Bergerie, Savennieres, Loire, France, 2006: Truly delicious Chenin Blanc, opening with aromas and flavors of stony minerals, butterscotch and vanilla, gong on to reveal citrus and citrus peel notes on a background that hints from moment to moment of honeysuckle, green almonds, cloves and ginger. Coats the mouth and lingers beautifully. Drink now-2018. NIS 283. Score 93. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)

Domaine Marcel Deiss, Engelgarten, Berrgheim, Alsace, France, 2005: A blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir (the Pinot Noir with absolutely minimal skin contct). A rich, almost decadent wine, with strong mineral overtones and fine acidity to keep everything in fine balance. Opens with quince and peach notes and goes on to reveal smoky and light musky notes that cannot help but tantalize. Long and generous. Drink now-2013. NIS 225. Score 93. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)

Domaine Weinbach, Gewurztraminer, Cuvee Laurence, Altenbourg, Alsace, France,2005: Typical for Domaine Weinbach but with its near oily texture and honeyed, flora notes not fully typical of Gewurztraminer. No problem with that, however, for this is "good stuff " indeed, full-bodied, with generous notes of licorice, cinnamon and anise parting to reveal generous litchi and ripe summer fruit aromas and flavors all with a note of oyster liquor that lingers nicely on the palate. Difficult to match this one with food but irresistible when sipped on its own. Well…perhaps with a bit of ripe Brie cheese. Drink now-2016. NIS 351. Score 94. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)

Domaine Marc Tempe, Gewurztraminer, Grand Cru Mambourg, Alsace, 2003: Not a specially good vintage year but a very good wine! Dark gold,with a deep nose that presents butterscotch, coconut and honey and opens in the glass to show an appealing array of litchi, white peaches and citrus peel, those on a background of vanilla, ginger and white pepper. An intense wine, with roasted herbs on the long, long finish. Drink now-2014. NIS 288. Score 93. (Tasted 26 Aug 2009)
User avatar
User

ChefJCarey

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

4650

Joined

Sat Mar 10, 2007 8:06 pm

Location

Noir Side of the Moon

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by ChefJCarey » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:17 am

I'm well aware there are some serious bizarre overtones to literal biodynamic farming. I also think some farmers sling the term around without completely understanding it. That is, some of them think it is just the nth degree of "organic". I've seen several Oregon growers apply the term to themselves. And, in Oregon, if they are vintners, too, they invariably have "gravity-flow" wineries. But, I don't see any of them out burying cow's horns at midnight.

That being said if one follows the spirit of the concept I don't see how one can be far off the mark. Seems to me to be the ultimate in sustainable, concise - and precise - concentration of terroir. And that's a good thing.
Rex solutus est a legibus - NOT
User avatar
User

Oswaldo Costa

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1918

Joined

Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:30 am

Location

São Paulo, Brazil

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Oswaldo Costa » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:27 am

Thanks for the reasoned and judicious summary, with which I agree entirely. I would only add that biodynamic farming tends to correlate with certain vinification practices that also affect flavor, such as little or no fining & filtration, and little or no SO2. Such wines tend to taste fresher earlier, at the risk of losing them later if not properly stored, or even if properly stored if winery hygiene was less than ideal.
"I went on a rigorous diet that eliminated alcohol, fat and sugar. In two weeks, I lost 14 days." Tim Maia, Brazilian singer-songwriter.
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

30989

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:52 am

Location

Connecticut

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by David M. Bueker » Thu Aug 27, 2009 8:36 am

Rogov,

Well written and reasoned post. I would take issue with the potential efficacy of ladybugs, as they have been at least somewhat implicated in the 2004 Red Burgundy "mean greenies." That being said I appreciate the holistic sensibility of biodynamics while simultaneously questioning the mystical elements and the idea that we really understand how the moon, stars and planetary alignments affect our ecosystems.

Oswaldo,

The little or no SO2 is really a specific winemaker choice, as SO2 is considered a natural substance. Much like copper sulfate it can be used with abandon in biodynamics. These "natural chemical" additions are the blind spot of biodynamics. As for fining and filtering - the reduction in both techniques predates the recent rise of biodynamics by a very long time.

Meant with all respect and hope for interesting discussion.
Decisions are made by those who show up
User avatar
User

Oswaldo Costa

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1918

Joined

Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:30 am

Location

São Paulo, Brazil

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Oswaldo Costa » Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:28 am

David M. Bueker wrote:The little or no SO2 is really a specific winemaker choice, as SO2 is considered a natural substance. Much like copper sulfate it can be used with abandon in biodynamics. These "natural chemical" additions are the blind spot of biodynamics. As for fining and filtering - the reduction in both techniques predates the recent rise of biodynamics by a very long time.


Agreed, these practices have, per se, nothing to do with biodynamics, but I think it's pertinent to bring them up because the "taste" of biodynamic wine (if one can make such a broad generalization, and Daniel takes a courageous stab), is due, to a an extent that could be significant, to them. It makes sense that, if you spend all that love & devotion on soil and vines, you won't want to interfere with the result with "make-up" afterwards.
"I went on a rigorous diet that eliminated alcohol, fat and sugar. In two weeks, I lost 14 days." Tim Maia, Brazilian singer-songwriter.
User avatar
User

Ryan M

Rank

Wine Gazer

Posts

2347

Joined

Wed Jul 09, 2008 3:01 pm

Location

Atchison, KS

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Ryan M » Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:23 am

I've no objection to consider the possibility that the phases of the moon and the timing of the equinoxes might have an effect on the vines. In fact, we humans would notice the influence of the lunar cycle much more without artificial lighting.

BUT, anybody who claims the position of Mars (or what have you) in the Zodiac has an affect on agriculture is extra-full of E. coli.
"The sun, with all those planets revolving about it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else to do"
Galileo Galilei

(avatar: me next to the WIYN 3.5 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory)
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

30989

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:52 am

Location

Connecticut

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by David M. Bueker » Thu Aug 27, 2009 6:04 pm

Oswaldo Costa wrote:
David M. Bueker wrote:The little or no SO2 is really a specific winemaker choice, as SO2 is considered a natural substance. Much like copper sulfate it can be used with abandon in biodynamics. These "natural chemical" additions are the blind spot of biodynamics. As for fining and filtering - the reduction in both techniques predates the recent rise of biodynamics by a very long time.


Agreed, these practices have, per se, nothing to do with biodynamics, but I think it's pertinent to bring them up because the "taste" of biodynamic wine (if one can make such a broad generalization, and Daniel takes a courageous stab), is due, to a an extent that could be significant, to them. It makes sense that, if you spend all that love & devotion on soil and vines, you won't want to interfere with the result with "make-up" afterwards.


Except that many other producers eschew both fining and filtration, and I would hesitate to obscure the already obscure variable of biodynamics by wrapping up conventional practices in the same matrix. Besides - an egg white fining is allowable in Biodynamics if I recall correctly. There's a difference between minimal technique to ensure wine quality and over-manipulation to ensure absolute consistency and bland faultlessness.
Decisions are made by those who show up
User avatar
User

Loweeel

Rank

Ultra geek

Posts

163

Joined

Thu Jul 10, 2008 4:05 pm

Location

Triangle Below Canal, New York, NY, USA

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Loweeel » Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:28 pm

Really really really trying not to get involved in this :)
http://PSychospath.com -- The PSychos' Path: the long road to being crazy about Petite Sirah
no avatar
User

Brian Gilp

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1452

Joined

Tue May 23, 2006 5:50 pm

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Brian Gilp » Fri Aug 28, 2009 7:45 am

David M. Bueker wrote:
I would take issue with the potential efficacy of ladybugs, as they have been at least somewhat implicated in the 2004 Red Burgundy "mean greenies."


I don't know to what you are referencing. Can you explain a little more. There are more than one type of ladybug and on the east coast the Asian Lady Bug is the one that we need to watch out for. If they make it into the wine itself they can turn it bitter in very small numbers. However, other types don't present this problem and in general all ladybugs are considered beneficials.
User avatar
User

Daniel Rogov

Rank

Resident Curmudgeon

Posts

12957

Joined

Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:10 am

Location

Tel Aviv, Israel

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Daniel Rogov » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:41 pm

Agreed with Brian. Ladybugs in the field are considered very environmentally friendly, destroying many unwanted pests, including sevral of near microscopic size in a natural way and while doig no harm on their own. The problem with ladybugs comes about not in the vineyard but when they actually enter into the crushing/pressing processes and thus make their way into the wine itself. But if you think ladybugs can cause a problem, lawsy, lawsy, you should feel the stink given off when certain caterpillers enter the wine.

Best
Rogov
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

30989

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:52 am

Location

Connecticut

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by David M. Bueker » Sat Aug 29, 2009 12:54 pm

Daniel Rogov wrote:Agreed with Brian. Ladybugs in the field are considered very environmentally friendly, destroying many unwanted pests, including sevral of near microscopic size in a natural way and while doig no harm on their own. The problem with ladybugs comes about not in the vineyard but when they actually enter into the crushing/pressing processes and thus make their way into the wine itself. But if you think ladybugs can cause a problem, lawsy, lawsy, you should feel the stink given off when certain caterpillers enter the wine.

Best
Rogov


There are some theories that ladybugs (which were apparently quite prevalent in '04) did in fact get into the fermenting process & gave off their distress chemical, leading to the odd character of the '04s. As with any wine theory...who knows. I am just getting at the idea that there are always unintended consequences.
Decisions are made by those who show up
no avatar
User

Brian Gilp

Rank

Wine guru

Posts

1452

Joined

Tue May 23, 2006 5:50 pm

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Brian Gilp » Mon Aug 31, 2009 1:45 pm

David M. Bueker wrote:There are some theories that ladybugs (which were apparently quite prevalent in '04) did in fact get into the fermenting process & gave off their distress chemical, leading to the odd character of the '04s. As with any wine theory...who knows. I am just getting at the idea that there are always unintended consequences.


Thanks for the explanation. That's what I figured it must be. I will need to check but I thought that it took either a very large number of bugs or that the bugs had to be the Asian Ladybugs for this to be a problem. As noted before, it apparently does not take many of the Asian variety to ruin a batch.
User avatar
User

Daniel Rogov

Rank

Resident Curmudgeon

Posts

12957

Joined

Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:10 am

Location

Tel Aviv, Israel

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Daniel Rogov » Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:52 am

Yesterday I visited four wineries in the area of Emek Kadesh - an area in the Upper Galilee, overlooking the Hulda nature reserve, close to the Lebanese border. Several of the vineyards in the area, those considered among the very best in the country, introduce ladybugs to the fields in order to do away with more harmful insects. The Asian ladybug is not among those introduced and none of the wineries reports (nor have I found) any problem with the ladybugs being in the fields or on their attendant impact on the wines they produce. Among the wines made from grapes in this area - Katzrin (the flagship wine of the Golan Heights Winery) and several of the best wines of Carmel, Tabor and Galil Mountain.

As an aside, let us keep in mind that ladybugs have two other decided advantages. First, they are "cute" enough that they don't put off even most people who have an aversion to insects, and second when one lands on your arm or hand you have the privilege of gently blowing it off while saying "ladybug, ladybug, fly away" and simultaneously making a wish. The lightest puff of breath will have them fly away. Whether your wish will come true or not is another story altogether.

Best
Rogov
Attachments
ladybug.jpg
(53.11 KiB) Downloaded 2041 times
User avatar
User

David M. Bueker

Rank

Riesling Guru

Posts

30989

Joined

Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:52 am

Location

Connecticut

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by David M. Bueker » Tue Sep 01, 2009 8:48 pm

Can I wish for no ladybug taint in my wines?
Decisions are made by those who show up
User avatar
User

Hoke

Rank

Achieving Wine Immortality

Posts

11476

Joined

Sat Apr 15, 2006 1:07 am

Location

Portland, OR

Re: Biodynamic Wines Tasted at Giaconda

by Hoke » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:32 am

David M. Bueker wrote:Can I wish for no ladybug taint in my wines?


Well,you can wish... :D

On a different tack, some of the bio growers I know informed me they are not using ladybugs much any longer---not because of what you cited, David, but because they don't believe ladybugs are all that efficient
in the attack of specific bugs they want to eradicate
, and that other methods or approaches are moreso.

I have tasted only one wine which is know beyond doubt was ladybug tainted, and that was one of the Ontario wines affected by the famous ladybug infestation of a few years ago. So many ladybugs got into the press that there was a distinct----and I do mean distinct---rancid peanut butter aroma wafting from the glass. And this, by the way, was at a major wine competition! :D

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign