Fork & Bottle is the host for the January 2007 edition
Our Theme was Biodynamic Wine
Each of this month's participants chose one (or more) biodynamic wines to taste and assess. From reading all of the tasting notes, my impression (and there's really not enough data) is that the better wines, especially the whites, displayed purity of fruit and surprised with their expression of minerality. (Note: Not every wine below was made from biodynamically grown grapes. Some participants could not find a biodynamic wine. Others were told a wine was biodynamic by a wine store salesperson and it turned out not to be so.)
The Round-Up Thanks very much to all 37 participants!
For some of you, it was quite a tough search, especially since wines are rarely labeled biodynamic. So, Joanne and I appreciate the extra effort that was required to participate. - Jack
2001 Marcel Deiss "Burlenberg" Pinot Noir Bergheim Alsace
It is the wines of Marcel Deiss that has finally transformed my friend Alder Yarrow of Vinography into a becoming a lover of Alsace* wines. I do cheat occasionally by pouring him something like this. Of this Deiss Pinot Noir, Alder says, "In the mouth it is soft and comfortable, like a favorite blanket or sweater...and the lightest hint of green tannins that add a complex and slightly chewy note to the expansive, lingering finish. Astonishingly good..." (*I've been told that Alsatian is incorrect by Lucien Albrecht.)
2001 Montirius Vacqueyras Rouge Julian Alubaidy of the Bubble Brothers in Cork takes us to the Rhone. This Vacqueyras gets the big approval from Julian: "The real pleasure for me was in the vibrant, muscular pulse of cherryish fruit that pushed through the darker flavours and dense structure of every mouthful. You won't be surprised to know that the finish is long and assertive."
2005 Cooper Mountain Vineyard Reserve Pinot Gris John (Man of La Muncha) of The Ethicurean gives us some background on Dr. Robert Gross who purchased Cooper Mountain back in the 1970s. As for this Pinot Gris, "The wine tasted of strong nectarines and citrus...This is a zippy little wine that was odd to drink in the middle of winter, but quite delicious." This is their first WBW entry. Be sure to check out their Daily Digest!
2005 M. Chapoutier “Belleruche” Rouge Côtes du Rhône Brenda,Culinary Fool, has selected the latest vintage of Belleruche. "I kept trying to identify some specific taste but the wine was very elusive. The flavor would dissipate before my mind could record any sort of recognized flavor. At one point though, I actually had the impression of toasted marshmallow!" Can we say "short finish"? Pretty disappointing from a heralded vintage. (Side note:
You might notice that this is the third vintage of this wine selected by WBWers. I strongly suspect it's because it's the easiest biodynamic wine to find. Could it be the largest production biodynamic wine in the world?)
2002 Benziger Syrah Sonoma County Joe and Pam of A Guy, a Girl and a Bottle tried to purchase a bottle of Tribute, but only found Benzinger's Syrah (which is organic but not biodynamic. Tribute is Benziger's biodynamic wine). It was very smooth and drinkable. They also feature podcasts with both Mike Benziger and Randall Grahm, both talking about biodynamics.
2004 Venus La Universal 'Dido' Montsant Gabriella, of Catavino, struggled to find a biodynamic wine in Barcelona. But she thinks she's found one from a new producer, Venus La Universal, whose two owners are quite famous: Sara Perez, winemaker of Clos Martinet and René Barbier. Love this description: "On the palate…wow, I’m sold. It’s like sipping on silk soaked in black cherries."
2004 Cullen 'Ellen Bussell' Red Margaret River Jens at Cincinnati Wine Warehouse found the wine to have "an aromatic nose, is followed by bright, elegant fruit and a medium finish, but is not overly complex. It is approachable with subdued tannins." He found interesting things to read at Cullen's website, but was "not so sure" about some of the biodynamic practices.
2004 Zind Humbrecht Pinot D'Alsace Sonadora of Wannabe Wino loved the 2004 vintage of Zind Humbrecht's Pinot d'Alsace. This vintage is a blend of 70 Auxerrois and 30% Pinot Blanc. "It's a bottle right up my alley with the crisp citrus flavors and the lasting minerals. I'm also a sucker for an aromatic nose that follows through in the mouth."
2000 Chateau de Combebelle Syrah-Grenache St. Chinian Jerry Hall of WineWaves finds a wine made by Robert Eden of Comte Cathare that is produced from a 50-acre biodynamic vineyard. I particularly like this nose description: "Aromas: Intense pungent dark berries and currants, roasted dark chocolate, plus hints of pepper, Worcestershire sauce and smoked meat."
2001 Domaine de Marcoux Châteauneuf-du-Pape Catherine at ManageYourCellar found an excellent Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The tasting note concludes with "the palate was lush, full-bodied, and juicy with sweet berries aromas, leaving a finish of bitter cocoa powder." I know exactly what she means; bitter cocoa is an excellent descriptor.
2004 Château Maris La Touge Syrah Sud de France Elisabeth at Culinary Therapy loved the Château Maris: "The flavors are black raspberry and cherry, with notes of pepper and spice. The silky texture feels great in the mouth and lingers most pleasantly." Culinary Therapy is a new blog and first-time WBWer, so you need to fill her blog with comments! (Side note: This wine used to have the appellation of Minervois-La Livinière, but now it is a Sud de France.)
2004 Domaine du Trapadis Côtes du Rhône Tim Elliott of WineCast returns to a new vintage of a wine he has enjoyed in the past. Tim was quite pleased... "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."
2002 Beauchatel Bergerac Erwin Dink of Winefoolery thought this Bordeaux red blend showed some promise until it met real food, where it was just too light (with chicken) to please. (Note: Bergerac is a beautiful town/area to visit - as is much of the Dordogne. It's not a place you think of as "Wine Country," but there are grapes everywhere.)
2002 Robinvale Zinfandel Australia Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once chose a Robinvale Zin. Haalo found it to be of a lighter style and pleasant to drink, but would not say that this wine had "purity of fruit." I notice that the wine's label shows the biggest 'Demeter' I've seen on a label - far bigger than the winery's own name. Do Australians know what Demeter means?
2004 Laurent Barth Pinot Gris Alsace Amy of The Second Glass, a new wine magazine out of Boston, brings to our attention an Alsace producer new to our shore. Amy tells us it "possesses a fabulous fruity front, followed by a zesty minerality on the mid-palette and a lingering bitter nut oil finish." I believe this producer makes wines very naturally but the vineyard may not be biodynamic (yet, as in much/most of Alsace looks as if it will be so soon).
2005 Fetzer Valley Oaks Gewurztraminer Roger (a.k.a. Box Wine Guy) of the Box Wines blog couldn't find exactly what he was looking for, but did find this Fetzer organic wine that he recommends: "The flavor is interesting - it starts off with strong sweet peach notes, and neatly transitions into a spicy grapefruit finish."
2005 Domaine François Chidaine Montlouis Clos Habert Brooklynguy's Wine and Food Blog: Neil Dorosin, who's been exploring the land of Burgundy and its wine of late, returns to the Loire Valley for his WBW entry. He has a great write up of this wine. I especially like how his tasting note begins, "Lovely floral and ripe melon on the nose, wet rock smells become more prominent after 90 minutes open. First impression on the palate is purity - this wine has that rainwater feel to it that I associate with good Loire whites." I think that Neil's blog is one of the best new wine blogs of 2006.
2005 Nigl Grüner Veltliner Kremser Freiheit Bryan of Water Into Wine found this $15 wine to lack acidity, but "the finish is pleasant and extremely food friendly. It is the cleanest wine I've ever tasted. I can only assume that the practice of biodynamic or organic farming contributed to the fresh and natural flavors here." Bryan sums it up as "a total bargain."
2004 M. Chapoutier Rasteau Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Erin and Michelle of Grape Juice talk about Michel Chapoutier's passions for biodynamic vineyard and winery practices. My favorite quote, "...ensure that soils are living and as expressive as possible." An excellent write-up for "this great value."
2004 Bonny Doon Pigato Ca' del Solo Vineyard Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 chose a wine from the Ca' del Solo vineyard, which has had 1 year of biodynamic conversion. This wine, made from the Pigato grape, "was such pale straw it was almost translucent, I was able to smell spring flowers and herbs. On the palate, light citrus flavors were accompanied by delicious herbal touches and a deep, profound minerality."
Dr. Debs also
scores the big points for an excellent paragraph on biodynamics: "Suffice it to say, if you were plunked down in Europe anytime before 1800 you would be witnessing biodynamic farming. For centuries, wine-makers were using just these methods - right down to the cycle of the moon and stirring compost in one direction." This is exactly it, as Ales of Movia explained to us. He didn't have to convert to biodynamics; it was the way they've been farming since 1820. People forget that Rudolph Steiner didn't invent biodynamics, he just wrote it down (and he didn't drink alcoholic beverages).
2002 Ceàgo Vinegarden Estate Merlot Camp Masut Mendocino Dave Fortna at Avenue Vine has done an incredible amount of research on this wine and biodynamic wines in general. The main post about biodynamic wines is here, while the hyperlink on the wine name above is a review of the wine. Yes, he exclaims, this wine "displayed purity of fruit, and a distinct freshness!"
2004 Lachini Ana Vineyard Pinot Noir Dundee Hills Alex Thayer's blog, Huevos con Vino, tells us about how Lachini is a LIVE-certified winery, which means they adhere to certain sustainable growing and harvesting practices. (So, it's not a biodynamic wine.) A well-done first WBW post, with this note "the flavor was a delicious balance of black cherry, red cherry, black plum, and an earthy smoky spice that seemed most like black pepper but that might have been something more festive, such as a very light nutmeg or cinnamon overtone."
Castello dei Rampolla Tuscany Alfonso Cevola, who writes On the Wine Trail in Italy, brings us a charming, amusing post detailing his visit to Castello dei Rampolla. (I believe he's on the road and can't provide a fresh tasting note.) (Coincidentally, I tasted the wines of this producer about a week ago and was blown away. Until Alfonso emailed me, I had no idea that their wines were made from biodynamically grown grapes.)