We're not ones to judge. In fact, we love anything that makes wine more 'natural', in theory at least. A healthier vineyard, less manipulation of the vines and the grapes and preferably less sulphur have got to lead to a product I'd prefer to put into my body. But more importantly, how do you feel about?
Graham from Boutinot Wines, was our speaker at the tasting and gave an excellent description of Biodynamics - well not so much its workings, but how to view it... 'I may not understand or necessarily believe all of the more spiritual elements to Biodynamics, but if it makes a better wine than what would have been created if it wasn't Biodynamic, then something must be working'.
I don't think you have got to be dogmatic about it. We weren't, and our customers who attended weren't, but we did taste an excellent selection of wines that we like to call Organic, Biodynamic and of course 'Natural'...
Circle of Life White - South Africa, £17.50
This zingy white (which we were told is a blend of Chenin, Sauvignon Blanc and probably some Viognier and Chardonnay) was wine of the night for some people. It's weight and richness betrayed the Viognier, the apples and acidity the Chenin, the hints of tropical fruits the Chardonnay and the freshness and vegetal aromas the Sauvignon. Very clean, very fresh, very popular.
Adobe Gewurztraminer - Chile, £8.25
From Emiliana, the world's biggest Organic producers, this was great value stuff. Slightly off-dry with the all grapeyness, Turkish Delight and spice you want from good Gewurz, I found myself going back to this later in the night...
Sepp Moser 'Minimal' Gruner Veltliner - Austria, £31.25
Without a doubt the strangest and most unique wine I've ever had the pleasure to taste. Not particularly Gruner-like, though there was some apple and pepper flavours, this was rich and oily, oxidised and oaky. None of the intense minerals and acidity you'd expect, instead freshly baked apple pie, buttered toast and spicy caramel dominated nose and palate. Some people were in love with it, some people hated it. Controversial, in the best possible way, with only a 'Minimal' dose of sulphur prior to bottling, too.
Honoro Vera Monastrell - Spain, £5.99 (£1 off)
You will often pay a premium for Organic wines, as there are more start-up costs in the vineyard compared to regular farming - not here though. All present and correct - soft red berry fruit and earthy, dusty tannins, just like you'd expect from Monastrell. And for less than six quid, too.
Pra 'Ripasso' Valpolicella - Italy, £20.99
Graham was quite adamant that we show this wine - one of his favourites. He said 'it shows the elegance of proper Valpolicella', at odds with the more modern and perhaps New World philosophy that you the more you pay the bigger a wine should be. The wine was impressive in its restraint, and for some people in the room, you couldn't beat the herbal flavours and the typical Italian acidity.
Emiliana 'Ge' - Chile, £35.49
This was heads-and-shoulders above the rest in terms of votes for wine of the night. When we had decanted it a few hours previous, the vanilla had been slightly overwhelming, but this had fallen away to reveal a sumptuous core of fig and blackberry and bramble. Rich, but certainly not overpowering, a real icon of Chilean wine and also the very first to be certified Biodynamic in the whole of South America.
Coll del Sabater - Spain, £18.50
Our only true 'natural' wine of the night in that it had been bottled without added sulphur, this was another which most people had never tasted anything quite like before. Earthy, dank and a little bit horsey (in a good way) it was very expressive - you could practically taste the earth. And at 5 years old, proving you don't always need added sulphur to go the distance.
For the most part we didn't enter a debate about the pros and cons of Organic, Biodynamic and 'natural' ways of farming grapes and making wines - there was no need. We were more than happy to spend the evening tasting some fantastic wines, and pondering the slightly unusual but certainly intriguing path many of them had gone down to end up in our glasses.
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