The new frontiers in winemaking Organic, biological and biodynamic
Organic, biological and biodynamic wines–these are the themes that have been much discussed in recent years.
The world of wine is increasingly multi-faceted, with a series of implications that are not always clear to a lay audience.
What’s it all about and moreover, what are the differences between them?
Today I’m going to try and clear up a few things, and give you an overview of these new wines. Right away they can be defined as craft wines, a result of the choices the winemakers make.
Since post-war period, science and technology have joined together to develop the means to control parasites and diseases, both in the vineyard and in the cellar, and improve the productivity of vines and soil.
Over the last few decades, consumers have become very attentive to what they eat, and also to what they drink. They have developed a sensitivity to such concepts as respect for the environment, attention to local sourcing and the search for authentic ‘zero kilometre’ products.
Organic wine is obtained from grapes cultivated according to the rules of organic agriculture, which typically excludes the use of artificial chemical fertilisers, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides.The production of organic wine has two principal stages: the first occurs in the vineyards and is concerned with anything to do with the growing of vines; the second is concerned with what takes place in the cellar, from fermentation through to bottling.
The basic definition of organic wine as “wine made with biologically-grown grapes” is only the first stage, and is the part concerned with the cultivation of vines.
“Biological” wine mostly focuses on the grape, which is grown without chemical substances and few synthetic materials added to the wine.
Biological agriculture is the certified production of fresh and authentic food, through processes that contribute to the safeguarding of natural resources, biodiversity, and animal well-being and which favour development in rural areas.
In the agricultural sector, the term “biological” refers to agricultural techniques or the technique for raising livestock that exclude or limit the use of chemical substances in the fertiliser or animal feed used, hence wholly organic. To display the BIO logo according the regulation (CE) no. 203/2012, certification it is necessary to be certified by a regulatory body such as AIAB, ICEA, ECOCERT Italia, CCPB, CODEX, Bioagricert, to mention only a few.
The correct definition of biodynamic agriculture indicates the direct relationship between the natural environment and the creatures that live in it, as well as the use of techniques that safeguard the environment itself. These depend on several factors.
Beyond following the same criteria as biological farming, biodynamic agriculture is influenced by the lunar calendar, the stars and the planets, all of which favour the growth of plants in a natural way.
Biodynamic agriculture emerged in the 1920’s among farmers who viewed the chemical revolution in agriculture as a long-term threat.
Biodynamics sees a close relationship between the energy of the soil and that of living beings and cosmic energy.
The lunar calendar of Maria Thun is still considered a reference point for agricultural practices following the biodynamic regimen. Human intervention is reduced to the minimum and soil is treated with ‘dynamised’ preparations from the same farm; these are prepared with mineral, vegetable and animal elements. These serve to increase soil vitality and defences.
Other biodynamic preparations are utilised to stimulate and harmonise plant growth; two of the better known of these are “horn manure” and “horn silica”. Horn manure is prepared with cow manure and horn silica is prepared with finely ground quartz.
Both are subjected to a process of fermentation in a cow’s horn; horn manure is applied towards evening directly on the soil before sowing. Its purpose and thus encourage healthy root growth in plants to improve absorption of nutritive substances from the soil.
Horn silica is instead applied early in the morning on crops.
The preparation aims to stabilise plant metabolism, thus reinforcing the quality of the harvest.
At the moment, the universally-accepted biodynamic certification is from the Demeter association.
Employing these practices means raising the profile and reinstating the role of the farmer in reestablishing the concept of harmony between man and soil, in a functioning ecosystem where each thing has its purpose and everything is interrelated.