Whats the difference between Biodynamic, Organic and Sustainable Winemaking?

Whats the difference between Biodynamic, Organic and Sustainable Winemaking?

Angelica Nohra
Wine Importer | Wine List Consultant | Speaker

Recently, I had the privilege of running through a Mosswood Wine Tasting with Hugh and Tristen the winemakers and sons of the original family who own the vineyards. 

Tristen was continually saying his family engaged in sustainable winemaking practises and after a while, I felt compelled to ask what they actually were... Assuming it would be similar to organic winemaking. 

Alas, No! Sustainable winemaking still allows for spraying chemicals on the vineyards and he made an interesting point. There have been certain chemicals developed to target specific problems and by spraying, you are stopping the spread of the disease...in his words "if you don't do that, it's like watching a child die rather than just giving them the medicine they need". 

For him, sustainability means ensuring the vineyards are there successfully growing grapes for centuries to come. Whether that's for his children or their children or someone else... All mulch goes back into the vineyard. They don't over crop. They don't try and get more out of the vineyard then it's willing to produce. They don't add more sulfur than the wine needs to stabilise. They let the wine speak for itself but remarks there was no religion to it. 

Compare this to Biodynamic Winemaking. This really big trend actually started in the 1920s but Australian philosopher, Rudolf Steiner! It's a more natural manner of farming that also times farming, harvest and vinification with the moon and sun cycles. You can say there is a more spiritual perspective given to the agricultural practise. These wines don't necessarily taste very different to non-biodynamic wines and can still contain up to 100mg/L of sulfur to stablise them. It's more of a principle and a practise, a form of giving back to the earth that we take from. It's not uncommon for biodynamic vineyards to have animals running through the vines for natural fertiliser.

Certified biodynamic wines contain up to 100 mg/L sulfites and do not necessarily taste differently than non-biodynamic wines.

Organic and biodynamic are very similar; both are grown without chemicals and GMOs. The main difference between organic and biodynamic is that biodynamic farming uses different principles that add vitality to the plant and soil, whereas traditional farming (which is used in organic vineyards) typically deteriorates the soil. Again, sulfites can be used even though a wine is organic! 

So really, if you do your research on a more conventional brand and find they are adopting sustainable farming practises, I see no reason to focus the discussion on Organic and Biodynamic.

Do you ever think about these things? Do you think the wines taste different if they are organic or biodynamic? Let me know in the comments below! 


Sustainable

2015 Robert Bowen Margaret River Chardonnay

After being transported to the winery the grapes were placed in a cool room overnight to chill the fruit further prior to whole bunch pressing the following morning. The juice had flavours of nectarine, melon and mineral acidity. I sent the unsettled juice direct to barrel with the barrels 50% new and 50% second use. Indigenous yeast was allowed to initiate primary fermentation followed by malo-lactic fermentation in most barrels. After minimal handing and 11 months in oak. The wine was bottled in February 2016.

2012 Robert Bowen Margaret River Cabernet Sauvignon

"My (Robert Brown) objective with this wine was to demonstrate in my own style the potential of Cabernet Sauvignon from the northern vineyards of the Margaret River wine region. This wine represents the culmination of 39 vintages working with this variety in Western Australia. Making this wine was very rewarding and I am very happy with the result.”

Organic

Sensi "Campoluce" Organic Chianti DOCG

Made with production principles which respect the surrounding nature, paying utmost attention to limiting the stress on the vine and on the terrain from which it grows "Campoluce" allows the harvest to develop in a totally spontaneous manner, respecting an ethical agriculture aimed at improving our eating habits - which has always been an important goal in Sensi Wines.

Biodynamic

2016 Tenuta Mara Guiry Bio Dynamic Sangiovese

WINEMAKING

The grapes are carefully selected by hand and the process takes place on a long sorting table. 

The grapes drop into conical shaped oak casks: without temperature control or the addition of selected yeasts. The must concludes the fermentation and remains macerating on the skins for approximately one month. 

To drop the grapes reach the conical section oak casks: not manage the temperatures and without the addition of selected yeasts. The must finishes fermenting and is macerated on the skins for about a month.


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