Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Biodynamic Wines and Holiday Meals: Balance for Your Palate and Planet

January 13, 2009 by  



by JACQUELINE CHURCH from Carrie&Danielle

Picking wines for the next holiday meal? Consider Biodynamic and organic wines. No compromises necessary.

What are Biodynamic Wines?

Rudolph Steiner (founder of Waldorf Schools) began Biodynamic agriculture in 1928 in Europe. Today, Biodynamic viticulture continues to treat the entire farm as an organism seeking balance. Harmony with nature, seasons, pests, organic pest control, even lunar cycles, are all taken into account by producers following the tenets of biodynamic farming. Underlying the methods is the belief that the earth, if cared for properly, will be self-healing, but needs our stewardship to achieve that state. Biodynamic agriculture is based on a holistic and spiritual view of the farm as a self-contained organism.

While some call Biodynamic agriculture “bohemian”, others are drawn to that very aspect. One of the best known biodynamic farmers calls farming itself unnatural. Given that the vines don’t choose to grow together in straight rows, grouped by varietal, in microclimates, you can see his point. Yet, farming has existed almost as long as we have. Perhaps it’s best to simply consider the benefits of returning existing farms to more holistically, healthfully run enterprises.

Demeter Certifies the Vineyards

An international organization called Demeter certifies vineyards as biodynamic in a process that typically takes years to achieve. Currently, there are about 105 Demeter-certified vineyards in the US. Demeter “aids the healing of an ailing earth and the production and availability of the highest-quality healthful food. We provide education about biodynamics and a certification process.”

Certified organic vineyards must meet Demeter’s additional criteria for a period of one year before earning the designation Biodynamic.

Struggle Builds Character, in Wine and in People

Just as a bit of hardship builds character in a person, so it is with wines. Vines that have to work hard to get their water and nutrients generally produce wines that express the terroir and the character of the grape to a greater degree than wines produced from vines that have it “easier”.

Because grapes, children of the vine, are such sensitive creatures, they are exquisite communicators about the system from whence they came. A truant child from a dysfunctional family expresses imbalance and lack of healthy systems. Similarly, grapes from a vineyard laced with chemicals, forced to produce in cycles that fight nature rather than honor it, produce wines that express a system out of balance. Biodynamic wines seem to be pointing us to the logical conclusion that wines produced from healthy, natural systems in balance, are superior to those produced in so-called “conventional” methods.

The now-famous 1976 California-French wine tasting, in which California wines soundly beat the French in blind tastings, put California viticulture on the map. Similarly, in 2004 a blind tasting of biodynamic and non-organic “conventionally” produced wines stunned the wine world.

The Biodynamic-sourced wines were rated superior in eight of the ten pairs, one tied and only one of the conventional wines was rated superior in the blind tasting.

Sold? Tips for Pairing Biodynamic Wines with Holiday foods

Hors d’oeuvres: Champagne is festive and refreshing
Champion Biodynamic: Champagne Fleury Millésime 1996, France.
German Gilabert – Cava reserve, Spain – $15. Importer José Pastor has re-purposed the less used parts of his name (José German Pastor Gilabert) to christen the first Cava to be included in his privately labeled Vinos de Terruños brand. This blend of traditional Cava grapes (Xarel-lo, Macabeo, Parellada) is as crisp and clean as freshly ironed linen. Organically grown fruit from the village of Santa Fe del Penedès is aged sur lies for 16 months, producing a dry, toasty assertively bubbly wine for drinking as a cocktail or with food.

Oysters: Chablis or Sancerre are classic pairings.
Ask your Sommelier if he has a French Chablis or Sancerre that is biodynamic as many of them don’t indicate on the label that they are, but a good wine merchant will know.
2007 Ceago Vinegarden “Del Lago” Chardonnay ($22) bright, zesty, juicy pear
Prosecco del Veneto Empiria 2005 Organic Prosecco
Benziger Carneros Chardonnay 2005

Roast Turkey: Light Pinot Noir/ Gamay or full white Burgundy
Grgich Hills Chardonnay 2005 Ca Del Solo Nebbiolo Bonny Doon

Crown Roast of Pork: Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Noir
Go lighter or heavier depending on the dressing or stuffing or accompaniments. Also, heritage pork will be a richer meat than conventional (read: dry) pork.
Champion Red and Champion Sustainable: Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2005, Bald Hills Vineyard, New Zealand.
2006 Cooper Mountain Pinot Noir Mountain Terroir ($50) Oregon, graceful lush, gentle tannins
2007 Benziger Signaterra Shone Farm Vineyard Russian River Valley ($24) This single-vineyard effort from a parcel in Forestville. The San Francisco Chronicle called it the “best of the tasting,” rating it three starts.

Prime Rib: Burgundy, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux
Champion Red and Champion Sustainable: Bald Hills Pinot Noir 2005, Bald Hills Vineyard, New Zealand.
Dewn Thoma/Chequera, Bonny Doon

Tips for a Dinner Party

If someone brings a bottle of wine, do you open it? You can ask, “Would you like me to open it now or save it for later?”

Should one pair wines with the main course or the side dishes? The roast or turkey may be the easiest thing on the table to pair. Try to consider the meal in total, but do focus on the main. If it’s a tannic wine you don’t want to pair it with a drier meat. Think about what you’d like on or with the main and pair to those characteristics.

Don’t forget about acidity. Acidity to wine is like salt to food, it enhances other flavors and helps focus on other characteristics. It also complements rich flavors and fat.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, or Kwanzaa, this time of year calls for celebration of friends, family; of our connectedness. Honor your connections with wines that represent the holistic connections between the vine, the elements and the producer.


This article was orginally posted at Carrie & Danielle, a part magazine, part altar, part salon for people who think and want to make things happen.