Ah, the question you’ve all been burning to ask, we get it. Well, we’re here to tell you everything there is to know about this wine-making method that’s beautiful and bizarre in equal measure.
So, what is it?
Natural wine is the unfiltered, unphotoshopped version of the wine we know and love, and biodynamic wine takes things a step further still. It’s made with a set of farming practices that views the farm or vineyard as one solid organism – it’s almost like a spiritual, ethical ecological approach to agriculture. Biodynamic wineries are aiming to create a self-sustaining system, which is pretty cool.
What does biodynamic mean?
Biodynamic winemakers believe that everything in the universe is interconnected. It’s a concept that was first developed and introduced in the early 20th century by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner. He wanted to create a formula that meant vineyards followed lunar patterns and respected the Earth as a living organism. Biodynamic winemaking is effectively the practice of balancing resonance between vine, man, the Earth and stars.
Because biodynamic agriculture is nearly a century old, it is the oldest, anti-chemical agricultural movement that predates the creation of organic farming by about 20 years.
How is biodynamic wine made?
Most of the work that goes into making a wine biodynamic happens in the vineyard before winemaking even takes place. The various tasks – like planting, pruning and harvesting – are regulated by a special biodynamic calendar, originally created by Maria Thun, the ‘high priestess’ of biodynamics. Maria divided the calendar into four categories – root, fruit, flower and leaf days.
Each biodynamic calendar day coincides with one of the four classical elements of Earth, Fire, Air and Water and serve a different purpose.
- Fruit days – the best days for harvesting grapes
- Root days – the best days for pruning
- Flower days – don’t touch the vineyard
- Leaf days – the best days for watering plants
Alongside the calendar, no chemicals or manufactured additions are allowed in biodynamic wine. Instead, wine growers make special compost preparations with natural ingredients and allow plants like dandelions and nettles to grow naturally on the land to improve soil fertility.
Here’s where the bizarre bit comes in
We mentioned the special compost. Well, cow horns are stuffed with special compost and buried. After a little while, the contents are dug up and used to make a tea for fertilising the vineyard. Yup. It kinda makes sense if you think that the animal horn is a symbol of abundance.
Do Biodynamic Wines Taste Different?
No, not really (subjective, obviously). Some people say that you’re getting a true reflection of what the grapes have produced and a better representation of the terroir of the area. If you’ve never tried biodynamic wine before, they can sometimes look a little different to conventional wine – often because it’s unfiltered. Let us know what you think! @pairupwines on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. And head to the quiz to start your Pair Up personalised wine journey!