by Tracey Jarvis-Ball
Nicolas Joly - Coulee de Serrant
Vanya Cullen - Cullen Wines
Telmo Rodriguez Lanzaga
In March Michelle and I were lucky to attend the International Return to Terroir tasting, part of Melbourne's recent Wine and Food Festival. Here we asked a few of the many Biodynamic producers what they found was different as a result of introducing biodynamic practices – including the renown guru himself – Nicolas Joly from Coulee de Serrant in France's Loire Valley and Vanya Cullen from Margaret River's Cullen Wines.
"we are helping wines catch the climate and soil"
Nicolas Joly » renowned French biodynamic winemaker
Recurring themes were:
» The soil is more alive and diverse with much more water holding and deeper rooting capacity with a better capability to withstand the vagaries of climate change, producing improved wine quality through all vintages
» As a result of the above the uniqueness, varietal character of the wine shines through, as a true reflection of the four natural components that created it – heat, light, water and soil/subsoil providing each wine with a "sense of place"
» The resulting wine is more "individual, pure, real, authentic" and has more vibrancy and energy without requiring "wine making trickery"
» Wines are less aggressive and therefore more accessible and easier to drink than chemically produced wines
» The holistic nature of biodynamic principles touches/influences everything associated with the wine - the vineyard, the workforce and the winery – biodynamics is something you live and breathe and this attracts and sustains like minded people across the whole value chain!
"Biodynamic grapes are a great expression of terroir and a sense of place"
Vanya Cullen » Cullen Wines
The best part of the day was getting to try some of these truly authentic wines from such wine regions as Australia's Beechworth, Margaret River, France's Loire Valley, Bordeaux & Alsace, Italy's Alto Adige & Tuscany, New Zealand's Gisborne as well as a quick trip across Spain.
Key things we reflected on from this opportunity were:
» The approachability, brightness, structure and layered complexity presented in so many of the wines we tried
» The "across the board" energy, vitality/liveliness found in each flight of wine we tried – presenting genuine, individual flavour differences between terroir and grape type
» The wines we tasted had much lower sugar and acid levels, without the big "alcoholic" tendency of some modern wine styles, but still plenty of flavour
» The amazing variety and obvious reflection of terroir in what are essentially the same grapes/wines but grown on different sites across the world
Overall it was a wonderful opportunity to see the true passion and belief demonstrated by all that we met and we left with the strong message that biodynamics is the only way to really present a true, quality wine that reflects its origins. You can really only see/taste the terroir if the wine is biodynamic!