Organic and biodynamic wines are experiencing a comeback as more and more people are looking to cut out additives in food, and in life in general. When organic wines first hit the headlines in the late 1990’s they had an image of being made in a shed by a man with a beard, woolly socks and open toed sandals – and quite frankly many of the wines tasted like those woolly socks. That was organic wine’s problem – it simply didn’t taste nice.
However, that has now all changed, as more and more quality producers are turning to organic or biodynamic methods of production in order to produce purer wines. I was always sceptical as the early organic wines I drank were frankly awful – and we mustn’t let our guard down now, plenty of the organic wines available in the UK today are still awful – but if you get a good one, it can be not only delicious but also a real pleasure to drink as it somehow gives you a sense of well being. I don’t think this is psychological, as I’m not into feeling good about myself for eating ‘only fruit that has fallen fom the tree’ but I do firmly believe that the vast amount of chemicals and additives in our food (and wine) today has effects on us that we’re just so used to that we don’t even notice them – but I am noticing their absence! For example I had a bad car crash in New Zealand many years ago and my back was quite badly damaged. I struggled on and went back to work as normal. Three years later back in the UK, I went to an osteopath for a shoulder problem and she relieved pain in my back I didn’t even realise I had, as I’d just got used to it. I believe it’s the same when we eat or drink these additives.
I always feel sluggish after white bread, although not sluggish enough to make me have a bacon butty on brown! There’s an awful lot of additives in white bread, and since cutting down on such foods I’ve felt a lot healthier.
Organic wine is wine made from organically grown grapes – that is from vines which have not been treated with synthetic man made fertilisers or herbicides. Organic vineyards tend to grow other beneficial plants between the rows of vines which add nutrients to the soil and can help combat pests and disease in natural ways.
Biodynamic wines are a legacy of Rudolf Steiner who introduced his system long before ‘organic’ was even recognised. Biodynamic looks at the vineyard as a larger part of nature, almost an organism in itself. Sustainability is the focus with recycling and composts and fertilisers made from other plants in the vineyard used to nourish the vines. They also take account of the earth’s natural cycles and rythyms, and lunar cycles, and time specific tasks to coincide with them to harmonise the environment and produce premium fruit.
It’s actually not easy to gain official certification as ‘organic’ or ‘biodynamic’ as it takes time and a lot of dedication. There are relevant certifying bodies for organic in most countries with the Demeter Association certifying worldwide for biodynamic.
Now that we’ve covered the introduction, we’re left with the same old problem as before.
Where do we find GOOD and DELICIOUS organic or biodynamic wines?
Wine is like any other food product – there’s good, mediocre and bad examples available. So how do we find the good ones? There are various places offering a plethora of different organic wines, maybe hundreds if not even thousands, but this doesn’t differentiate between the good and the bad. That’s left for you to discover by trial and error. However there is one website who specialise in only GOOD wine, and they are launching a dedicated section on LOW SULPHITE, PRESERVATIVE FREE, ORGANIC and BIODYNAMIC wines with a difference – they’re all picked for their outstanding quality. They’re produced by boutique vineyards with the focus clearly on quality, that they’re also organic is an important but secondary consideration. The site is also full of useful information for people looking to avoid sulphites in wine. Visit www.goodwineonline.co.uk and see for yourself.