Organic, biodynamic, and natural wines are getting a lot of attention lately. You may notice “green” tags in the wine aisles, organic and biodynamic seals of certification on wine labels, news articles, and winery websites highlighting their green environmental initiatives in the vineyards and cellar. What’s the difference between all these “green” terms and why you should give biodynamic wines a taste.
This month the French Winophiles are exploring French biodynamic wines. We will be chatting about the subject Saturday, January 19 at 11:00 am ET and writing about it on our blogs. A list of the blog posts is at the bottom of this post. In the meantime, check out our host, Gwendolyn Alley’s preview post for our theme on French biodynamic wines here.
What’s the Difference between Organic, Biodynamic, and Natural Wines
Organic Wine – Basically, organic wine is made from grapes grown in vineyards that do not use synthetic chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. The focus is on creating healthy soils and a biodiverse environment. The ultimate goal is for stronger, healthier, and more disease resistant vines.
However, U.S. and European wines have different requirements when it comes to sulfur dioxide in organic wines.
In the U.S. “organic wines” (can carry the USDA organic seal) contain no added sulfites, only naturally occurring (less than 10 parts per million). “Made with organic grapes” (cannot carry the USDA organic seal) is allowed to add sulfur dioxide up to 100 parts per million and must be disclosed on the label. (Conventional/nonorganic wines can have up to 350 parts per million).
In the European Union, organic wines are allowed 100 parts per million for red wines (150 for conventional/nonorganic red wine), 150 parts per million white and rosé wines (200 for conventional/nonorganic), sweets wines are allowed an additional 30 parts per million.
Biodynamic Wine – Biodynamic wines encompass the criteria of organic wines in addition to, some or all of the principles composed by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924. Biodynamic farming encourages creating a holistic ecosystem with biodiversity and self-sustainability instead of a monoculture. Also, the planting, sowing, harvesting, and pruning are determined by the lunar cycles. The third principle and the most controversial includes homeopathic preparations made from cow manure, quartz, and seven medicinal plants. Some of these preparations are buried in animal organs over the winter and unearthed in the spring and applied to the vineyards. Certification can be obtained from Demeter and Biodyvin when the criteria are met.
Natural Wine – Natural wines have no legal classification or set of standards for operating procedures. In general, they are wines made without additives, chemicals, little or no sulfites, no cultured yeast, and no filtering. They are known to be funkier tasting more sour and yeasty with a cloudy appearance. Three examples of natural wines; Orange Wine, Pétillant Naturel (Pet Nat), and Col Fondo Prosecco.
Why Should You Give Biodynamic Wines a Taste
Environmental Impact – Farming with less or no synthetic chemicals is healthier for the soil, environment, people, and the planet. Also, using preparations in the vineyards and following the lunar cycles as outlined in the principles of biodynamic farming makes for stronger and healthier plants in the long run.
Health – Chemicals can negatively affect your overall health whether spraying them in the fields, using them in the wine cellar or consuming products that have been treated with them. At the end of the day, when you consume a more natural product how do you feel? Overtime how is your overall health?
Terroir Expression – For the taste of a wine to express the uniqueness of where it is grown, having an organic and holistic philosophy in the management of the vineyard and minimal intervention in the cellar, allows more readily for that expression of terroir to show itself.
Certification – Biodynamic wines have a set of standards and criteria that must be met to be certified.
2010 Château de Puligny, Monthélie Sous Roches, Burgundy
13% abv | $45.00 Fermented | 100% Chardonnay
Château de Puligny had a progressive transition to organic & biodynamic farming. The estate was purchased by the Montille family in 2012. In 2002 the estate begin organic farming and since 2005 introduced biodynamic viticulture. Domaine Montille, as stated on their website; considers biodynamics from an agricultural methodology applied from a pragmatic approach: “listen to the soil and the plants, promote and encourage the development of the vineyards and work in harmony with the natural cycles of the planets and phases of the moon to reinforce the vineyards.”
Deep gold in color. Medium bodied and acidity. On the nose toast, green apple, and apricot aromas. On the palate fresh, chalky, citrus, and star fruit notes.
2016 Domaine Zind Humbrecht Gewürztramier, Turckheim, Alsace
13.5% abv | $29.00 Fermented| 100% Gewürztraminer
Domaine Zind Humbrecht is owned by Olivier Humbrecht. The estate was organic certified in 1998 by Ecocert and biodynamic certified in 2002 by Biodyvin/Ecocert. Domaine Zind Humbrecht believes that terroir expression is reinforced by cultivating the vines organically and according to biodynamic principles. Read about Humbrecht’s perspective on minerality in wines and the biodynamic connection here.
Deep straw in color. Medium bodied and acidity. On the nose lychee, rose, and spice. On the palate dry with spicy, ginger, peppery notes.
The Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer with its dry and spicy elements was a great pairing for the sheet pan dinner of curry chicken and cauliflower, pickled red onions, and cilantro. The exotic blend of curry, garam masala, turmeric, and fresh ginger was matched with the spicy component in the wine. The high-temperature roasting of the chicken and cauliflower were balanced with the fullness and higher alcohol in the wine. The pickled red onions provided a nice palate cleanser along with the acidity in the wine.
Sheet Pan Curry Chicken and Cauliflower
- 4 medium cloves garlic, peeled, crushed, and finely chopped
- 1-1/2 teaspoon mild curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1-1/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-1/2-inch size pieces
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-1/2-inch size florets
- fresh cilantro leaves
- pickled red onions recipe follows
- Preheat the oven to 425º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large wide shallow bowl, combine the garlic, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, ginger, and coconut oil. With a fork work mixture into a paste.
- Add the chicken and cauliflower to the bowl and mix to coat the ingredients with the paste.
- Spread the mixture in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.
- To serve, top with cilantro and pickled red onions.
Pickled Red Onions
- 1 medium red onion, thinnly sliced
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1 star anise
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1-1/4 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1-1/2 teaspoon fine white sugar
- Put the red onion slices in a medium bowl
- In a medium saucepan, combine water, peppercorns, salt, garlic, star anise, coriander seeds, and sugar. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, stir. Pour the mixture over the onions.
- Cool completely and then refrigerate. Pickled onions will keep for a few days in a covered jar in the refrigerator.
More posts from the French Winophiles on French Biodynamic Wines
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla whips up “Learning about Biodynamic Wines + M.Chapoutier Wines with Some Cross-Cultural Pairings.”
- Jill from L’OCCASION shares “Lessons From A Biodynamic Winemaker In France”
- Wendy at A Day In The Life On The Farm reminds us about “Eating and Drinking Responsibly”
- Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen tells us how “French Biodynamic Wines get Crabby.”
- Jeff from foodwineclick discusses “Our Biodynamic French Friends”
- Kat from Bacchus Travel & Tours tells us how “The #Winophiles Unlock the Mystery of Biodynamic Wines”
- Jane cooks things up at Always Ravenous and shares “Why You Should Give Biodynamic Wines a Taste.”
- Nicole from Somms Table shares “Somm’s Table: Cooking to the Wine: Marcel Lapierre Morgon with a Hearty White Bean Stew”
- Lynn from Savor the Harvest shares “ Biodynamic Bordeaux- Nobody’s Perfect But The Wine Is Fabulous.”
- Susannah from Avinaire joins us with “Biodynamic Wines Crémant D’Alsace“
- Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles entices us with “Fabulous French Biodynamic Wines and some exquisite pairings”
- Host Gwendolyn on Wine Predator presents “Still and Sparkling: 2 Biodynamic Wines from Alsace, 2 from Rhone for #Winophiles.”