“You dance around naked in the moonlight — so I typically tell them yeah just come on out!” Bonterra’s Director of Vineyards Joseph Brinkley in It Starts With Wine discussing what many people think about biodynamics.
The new docu-series It Starts With Wine on Amazon Prime brings vintners and chefs from around the world into your home for an inside perspective on people and places behind the wines you drink — and the ones you’ll want to!
The first three episodes are out now–
- Episode 1 features famed chef and restaurateur Francis Mallmann with a backdrop of Uruguay which #WinePW focused on in February,
- Episode 2 features Argentina, our #WinePW focus for January,
- Episode 3 of the series goes to Northern California’s Mendocino County to understand organic and Biodynamic® farming, featuring wines from Bonterra Organic Vineyards and Bonterra Director of Vineyards Joseph Brinkley– and biodynamic wines of the world is the prompt for April during Earth Month which I am hosting and you’re invited to join!
One of my resolutions for 2019 is to help YOU discover and understand biodynamic wine, and to encourage YOU to go beyond “sustainable” labels to learn more about biodynamic and organic practices — and I want to drink more organic and biodynamic wines myself!
So far this year,
- I’ve led the Winophiles to find and write about biodynamic French wines.
- I’ve invited the Italian Food Wine Travel group to investigate Italian viticulture with an emphasis on biodynamic wines, or in my case, Metodo Corino, which is a biodynamic method that’s vegetarian based instead of animal.
- In April, I’m taking the Wine Pairing weekend group of wine influencers on a virtual journey to find biodynamic wines of the world and to pair them with food.
- I’ve got biodynamic wines this weekend for the #WinePW focus on Cabernet Franc.
- And in this post, after a quick discussion about biodynamics, I’m talking about two biodynamic Bonterra wines.
So biodynamic — what does that mean? I’ve written quite a bit on this topic in the posts linked to above but I’ve got more to say and wines to share!
Here’s the definition according to the Biodynamic Association,
Biodynamics is a holistic, ecological, and ethical approach to farming, gardening, food, and nutrition.
While conventional agriculture and winemaking uses whatever means necessary to get the desired results, in contrast organic grape growing prohibits the use of chemical and artificial herbicides while biodynamic grape growing and winemaking goes beyond organic to encourage a series of practices that improve the land — so that what is grown is even better at expressing a sense of place.
Further, biodynamic winemaking doesn’t allow the use of additives in wine making except for small amounts for fining, filtering and preservation; for example, instead of the 350 mg/ liter of sulfites allowed in conventional wine, in the US Demeter allows only 100 milligrams per liter.
Instead, the emphasis is on farming as explained by Elaine Chukan Brown:
Biodynamic farmers use a series of preparations which Monty Waldin outlines as:
“THE NINE BIODYNAMIC PREPARATIONS 500-508 are the essence of and are unique to the Biodynamic way for farming and wine-growing. Their regular application to the land is a pre-requisite for any vineyard or other agricultural enterprise to be considered Biodynamic by Demeter, the organization which has regulated Biodynamic farming since it was first described in 1924.” These are used in concert with celestial cycles.
“THREE BIODYNAMIC FIELD SPRAY PREPARATIONS 500, 501 & 508 are sprayed directly on the vineyard or farm individually and at different times during the season.”
“SIX BIODYNAMIC COMPOST PREPARATIONS 502-507 are added to the compost pile… The Biodynamic idea of composting waste generated by the farm/vineyard and returning it to the land is to maintain a terroir-enhancing self-sustaining living organism. ”
“We see that bringing fertility but for the mainstream that sounds strange.” He explains that in biodynamics, “We believe that all fertility comes from the farm.”
Here’s how to come join us dancing in the moonlight!
- Find, research, and write about a biodynamic wine from anywhere in the world. Please try to find a wine that is certified by Demeter and has the Demeter logo on the label.
- If you’re not sure if a wine is biodynamic or organic, check this resource curated by expert Monty Waldin.
- Pair that wine with food; we love photos, stories, and recipes — even if it’s a disaster!
- Send me your title with your URL and site name by noon Tues. April 9: email to gwendolyn alley AT yahoo DOT com, comment below, or post the title with a link to your site under the invite post in the group Facebook page.
- Tell us the story of your biodynamic wine and food pairing! Publish your biodynamic wine post anime Friday April 12 or before 8am Saturday April 13.
- Join the twitter chat from 8-9am Pacific using the hashtag #WinePW.
- Watch for the dozen or so questions or topics to discuss that I’ll develop and post.
- We love to be social! Please comment on and share participating posts.
To get you going, I hope you’ll keep reading to learn more about the biodynamic wines from Bonterra we tasted and I encourage you to check out Bonterra’s video yourself. “It Starts with Wine: California” begins with an explanation of biodynamics for about the first five minutes with beautiful footage of Northern California. It provides details about Sonoma’s start as a wine area in the late 1800’s then again in the 1970’s and explains the wide variety of micro-climates in Mendocino wine county from Sonoma through the Anderson Valley to Mendocino. Also important is cooking using simple ingredients which is backed with great recipes on the Bonterra website.
While Sue watched the film before we made our dinner and I watched it after, it would make for a great evening to enjoy the wines with recipes from the website then watch the show. Because what’s better than dinner and a movie? A dinner featuring the wines in the movie!
For our meal, we went to the Bonterra website where there is a great number of recipes to choose from; most utilize easy to access ingredients and fresh foods. There are also pairing suggestions depending on what wines you are choosing to pair with your wines.
Bonterra website inspired menu
- Cheese plate:
Stilton, aged gouda, pate, salami, oven roasted spiced nuts, basque cheese
- roasted BLT with blue cheese salad
- harvest squash soup
- braised beef and polenta
- Almond chocolate bark
- Cabernet hot cocoa
- The McNab 2014 (SRP $50)
- The Butler 2014 (SRP $50)
sample provided for my review consideration
Color: rich ruby with a rosey ring
Nose: nice florals, spicy carnation, blue fruit, rosemary, and lavender, forest floor and violets
Palate: palate – dry herbs (fennel licorice, sage)dried cocoa, silty, dirt, on the finish, subtle tannins
Pairing: this wine was so fabulous with our provincial tapenade, the herbs to provence in the tapenade with the lemon and anchovies, wow! It was just ok with the salami, but was a beautiful pairing with the pate. The grilled BLT salad marry nicely with the wine, it likes the sweetness that grilling bring out in the romaine, and the char on the vegetable in this salad. It loves the salty, smoke in the ham. It nicely reveals those characteristics in the wine.
2014 – The McNab – McNab Ranch Vineyard Cuvee – Mendocino County – 14.6% alcohol (SRP $50)
sample provided for my review consideration
Color: deep and dense, maroon with a scarlett rim
Nose: herbs, mint, lavender, rosemary, herbs de provence, the herbs are most prevalent, there is a bit of fruit, cherry or raspberry
Palate: clean minerals, herbs, sage, mid palate there is tart fresh fruit (cherry) with cocoa powder on the finish
Pairing: really great with our toasted nuts, it loved the deep toast of the nuts and the wonderful baking spices and garam masala that they were tossed with. Gwen thought of mole, beef or chicken tacos with mole.
About the grilled BLT salad, Sue stated, “It works, it works, it works!”
We were skeptical about the hot cocoa. Who would have thought that adding cabernet to your hot cocoa would be a thing, but it is!!!! It was wonderful and went well with the almond bark because of the salt combined with the chocolate.
“I am usually more inclined to continue drinking my wine with just a bite or two of sweets to either compliment the wine or fulfill my sweet tooth,” says Sue, “but the hot cocoa with the savory slightly sweet brittle is perfect to end any meal.”
It could get you dancing in the moonlight!