Home' Hospitality Business : HB JUNE 2017 Contents ORGANIC VS BIODYNAMIC
An understanding of what ‘organic’ means for viticulture and wine and
any differences with ‘Biodynamism’ will help your customers better
understand these far ming philosophies. Any notion that feral hippies are
the only people to make organic wines have been well and truly dissolved
by the enor mous success of the producers that have embraced organics.
Organics are a philosophy, a way of thinking translated into a usable
system that sustains the health of soil, the ecosystems that are part of a
vineyard – below and above ground - and the people that maintain the land.
Organic viticulture also relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles
adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
The Maori term ‘Toitu’ sits well alongside the philosophy of organic
its meaning suggests land should be eter nally sustainable. The goals of
organics include healthy vines, healthy grapes and potentially great wine.
To demonstrate how this works a very common practice is the use of
compost, laid below each vine and on top of this a layer of straw. This
simple application means a moist and protected environment exists below
the straw - promoting good bacteria and microbial life, lots of worms and
with the added benefit of not having to weed. Any need for weed control
using manmade substances or machinery can have a significant impact
on the soil and vine, such as compacting the soil, the release of exhaust
fumes into the atmosphere and repeat weeding tasks. Organics also
makes use of cover crops between the vines such as peas to build soil life.
Buckwheat is also commonly planted to attract insects that eat pests.
Bio-Dynamics takes the ideas of organics one step further with a deeper
focus on understanding and managing the vineyard as a holistic organism.
Biodynamic methods include the use of special plant, animal and mineral
preparations which are used for var ious reasons from preventing disease
to adding nour ishment to the soil. Many of these applications coincide
with the cycle of the moon and seasons while others do not. One such
preparation is called [Preparation] 500.This is made by filling a cow’s
hor n with cow dung, and bur ying it in the ground for several months.
After this time underground, the manure tur ns into a dark sweet-smelling
humus.The manure is then combined with water and sometimes other
ingredients to make Preparation 500, which is sprayed throughout a
vineyard typically at the descending phase of the moon.This elixir assists
in the activation of the soil and encourages its life force to ignite.
THE END RESULT...
The major ity of wine made using organically grown grapes undertake
a ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ fer ment stage. Put simply this means that only the
yeast cells stuck to the grape skins at harvest time begin and complete
the primary alcohol fer mentation. While there is some r isk in this
approach, it is always more successful than not. Recent research into
indigenous yeasts throughout New Zealand suggests a very strong
population and a wide range of types plus a high degree of successful
natural fer ments. This is of course winemaker controlled.
The resultant wine can and often smell and taste different and better.
Herein lies one of the many positive outcomes for organically managed
vineyards.The aroma of a naturally-fermented wine from these grapes
is immediately more complex, subtle and engaging. For white wines
there can be scents of wild flowers, delicate Manuka honey and heirloom
versions of the fruits suggested.This is in addition to the attractive scents
associated with each var iety. For red wine, the same applies, though a
little harder to detect when significant skin contact or oak is used. Red
wine does, however, benefit with more texture and finesse. Red wine
can often have less new oak used as well - a result of the more subtle and
beguiling scents that can ar ise though a natural ferment based on organic
mater ial.This would be a producer and style decision however.
Acidity too can be different in these wines, brighter, more focused
and riper driving the finish and intensity for a much longer aftertaste.
The decision as to whether a wine is better or even better for you
because it is made from fruit far med in a natural way will ultimately be
decided by the drinker – your customer. A wine must always smell, taste
and feel attractive touching as many senses as possible leaving a lasting
impression. My personal exper ience of wines managed using organics is
always more exciting, textural and leaves a lasting positive impression. n
Cow’s horns are filled with cow dung and
buried in the ground for several months.
Felton Road winemakers stirring Prep 500
Cow's horns at Quartz Reef
Hospitality BUSINESS | June 2017 | 55
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