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WBW 29 – Biodynamic Wine

by Tim Elliott on January 17, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday logoThe theme this month for Wine Blogging Wednesday is biodynamic wine, chosen by Jack and Joanne from Fork and Bottle.

When I first read about the theme, I really didn’t know much about biodynamic agriculture or how it differed from organic practices. A quick read of an excellent series on the subject by Jamie Goode brought me up to speed. Without getting to far into the details, biodynamic farming is a philosophy as much as it’s a process. Quite similar in many ways to organic farming, biodyamics is based upon the teachings of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner who outlined a method for the farm (or vineyard) to be a self-sustaining ecosystem in the 1920’s. Chemicals are not permitted and a series of steps, known as preparations, are employed to get the soil ready to sustain the crop. There’s also some business about the “rhythms of nature” that reminds me of some Jerry Brown speeches back in the day. So it’s kind of like organic farming on steroids with some new age philosophy thrown in for good measure.

As it relates to wine growing, there are many vineyards around the world who subscribe to the philosophy of biodynamic agriculture but not necessarily pay the fees to be officially certified as such. One of those vignerons is Helen Durand who is the owner and winemaker of Domaine du Trapadis in the Southern Rhone and follows a 200 year family tradition. Longtime readers will remember I reviewed a wine made by this producer back on WBW 19, but I thought I would try the latest vintage here and elaborate on how the grapes were grown and the wine produced.

M. Durand believes in letting the vines and land speak for themselves, so no chemicals or artificial fertilizers are used in the vineyard. This philosophy extends to the winemaking process where the grapes are hand harvested and not destemmed before fermentation. Cultured yeast is not used, preferring the wild yeast of the vineyard. The wine is fermented and aged in individual variety lots before blending and bottling without fining or filtering. No oak barrels are used in the aging of this wine so the maximum expression of the fruit and site is preserved. I know of no better definition of terroir than these practices.

Domaine du Trapadis, Cotes du Rhone 2004 ($15) – A blend of 60% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 7% Mourvedre.

Garnet in color with aromas of black raspberry, licorice, earth and cloves. Rich and rustic black cherry and raspberry fruit flavors with black pepper, tar and firm tannins. A typical Rhone blend for everyday drinking that presents a lot of complexity for the money.

In short, a real wine made by real people.

14.5% ABV
Composite cork closure
Score: 87

Winecast 54 – When in Rhone

by Tim Elliott on March 9, 2006

This month’s theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday, our monthly, global wine tasting event, is provided by Jathan from the Winexpression blog. He encouraged us to find wines made from Rhône varietals no matter where in the world they came from for his “When in Rhône” theme. Listed in his announcement were some 22 varietals common to France’s Rhône Valley, known for their blends of mostly red, and occasionally, white wines. Outside of relative well known varietals such as Syrah, Grenache and increasingly Viognier, most of the other 20 are rare outside the region.

Longtime readers and listeners of my podcast will recall I have covered those more common Rhône varietals in the past, so I eschewed the “easy way out” and visited Chuck at Solo Vino in St. Paul for some recommendations. After all, they were the store that I found the bottling of Counoise for WBW 18 last month. After a bit of discussion and consideration of some of their many Rhône blends, and some other obscure varietals, we selected two blends for tasting this time; one white and one red.

The first wine selected is a white from Domaine de Piaugier, their Sablet Blanc 2004, a blend of 40% Grenache Blanc, 30% Clairette, 20% Viognier, and 10% Roussanne. The vineyard is located in the southern Rhône, where Sablet is one of the 16 villages that comprises the Côtes du Rhône appellation. Although 90% of the wines made here are red or rose, whites like Domaine de Piaugier can be found in many wine stores around the world. Grenache Blanc is the white version of the popular red variety while Clairette and Roussanne are common blending grapes of the northern Rhône where they are used in both red and white wines.

Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2004 ($22) – Clear light straw in color with a tinge of green; peach, apricot and spice aromas. Stone fruit and honey flavors combine with a rich mouthfeel and lively acidity, finishing with just a touch of lychee. A big, dry white that will stand up to more substantial food matches than most whites. Don’t drink this one too cold or you will miss the considerable nuances of aroma and flavor. Score: 9/10.

The second blend, this time a red from the southern Rhône, is from Domaine du Trapadis, their Côtes du Rhône from the 2001 vintage. The grapes used in this blend are 60% Grenache, 13% Carignan, 10% Syrah, 10% Cinsault and 7% Mourvedre. While Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre are well known in the Rhône, Carignan and Cinsault are somewhat below the radar. In fact, Carignan is the most widely grown wine grape in France, mostly appearing in blends for its spice, deep color and full body or in vin ordinaire from carafes at bistros throughout the country. Cinsault is also grown in quantity in France where it is almost always used in blends for it’s high acidity and soft tannins. Cinsault was also crossed with Pinot Noir to create Pinotage, a varietal popular in South Africa.

Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône 2001 ($15) – Ruby color with pronounced aromas of black cherry and earth; raspberry fruit flavors with dusty tannins and nice acidity make this a good food wine. The nose may be too funky for some tasters, but I found this added to the overall experience. Score: 8.5/10.

So the best wine of the two, is the Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2004, which I also found to be a nice value. The Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône 2001 is another fine value for those looking for a red.

Thanks again to Jathan from Winexpression.com for a great theme and for Solo Vino for providing the wines for tasting this month. See you all in April for a post and podcast actually appearing on Wednesday, if not before 😉

Show Notes:

00:24 – Welcome
00:35 – Wine Blogging Wednesday background
01:15 – “When in Rhone” Theme
02:44 – Domaine de Piaugier, Sablet Blanc, Côtes du Rhône Villages 2004 ($22)
04:30 – Domaine du Trapadis, Côtes du Rhône 2001 ($15)
06:21 – Best of tasting/best value
06:54 – Getting back to weekly podcasts
07:54 – First winner of QPR Wines subscription (congrats, Sandy!)
08:42 – Listener survey for chance to win iPod Nano
09:06 – Contact Details
09:30 – To sponsor Winecast contact Backbeat Media
09:35 – Next Show Theme

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