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.
Composite cork closure