The first biodynamic wine I tasted was at a wine tasting at the South World Wine Society. The topic was not biodynamic wines at all. I do not remember the topic, other than it was red wines from Australia, and it happened that one of the bottles was from a biodynamic winery. That wine tasted more alive and vibrant than all the other wines at the tasting. Since then whenever I see a biodynamic wine to taste, I take the opportunity to do so, and so far I have always enjoyed the wines. The freshness of the fruit always comes through.
So when I heard about SOAHC Estate Wines from Fruitvale, BC in the East Kootenays being biodynamic I reached out to see if I could get a few bottles to try and write about, which leads us to this post.
What is Biodynamic Agriculture?
According to the Biodynamics Association, biodynamics is “…a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, food production and nutrition. Biodynamics was first developed in the early 1920s based on the spiritual insights and practical suggestions of the Austrian writer, educator and social activist Dr. Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), whose philosophy is called “anthroposophy.” Today, the biodynamic movement encompasses thousands of successful gardens, farms, vineyards and agricultural operations of all kinds and sizes on all continents, in a wide variety of ecological and economic settings.
Biodynamic farmers strive to create a diversified, balanced farm ecosystem that generates health and fertility as much as possible from within the farm itself. Preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to help restore and harmonize the vital life forces of the farm and to enhance the nutrition, quality and flavor of the food being raised. Biodynamic practitioners also recognize and strive to work in cooperation with the subtle influences of the wider cosmos on soil, plant and animal health…” https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics.html
So how does “Chaos” fit into biodynamics? From SOAHC’s website “…Chaos theory states that, under certain conditions, order and regular patterns can be seen to arise out of seemingly random, erratic and turbulent processes…One of the key principles of biodynamic farming is to harness energy from nature. This is probably best exemplified in the stirring process creating vortices which increase oxygen and give water a potentized force. When stirring any mixture, you create a vortex, only to then create chaos by changing directions, and then, out of chaos, you create another vortex.” http://www.soahc.com/biodynamics/about-biodynamics.aspx
One thing that I noticed about both wines are that they have quite low alcohol content; 9.5% for the Riesling, and 11.7% for the Chardonnay, which I like. You can enjoy a bottle with friends without feeling overpowered by the alcohol. I am wondering if the lower alcohol content may be due to a wild ferment for SOAHC’s wines, as part of the biodynamic processes they employ? Wild, indigenous yeasts, are usually not as efficient at converting sugar to alcohol as the cultured yeasts.
Also related to biodynamics is the best day to drink a wine. There is a biodynamic calendar that classified says as fruit, leaf, flower, or root, with a fruit day being a good day to enjoy the fruit of a wine, while a root day the wines may be earthier. I tasted these wines on October 10, 2014. I am not sure which day it was classified. But if you would like to find out more about the biodynamic calendar and the recommended days to taste wines, you may want to read this article from CHOW.
SOAHC Estate Wines Chardonnay 2013 – Pale straw in colour. Aromas of toast, vanilla, lees, pears and a hint of stone fruits. On the palate the wine is dry, light bodied and has a light acidic prickle. The toastiness continues from the nose to the palate. Light fruit flavours of pears and stone fruit, along with a little vanilla. Medium plus length, with some almond pit on a mouth watering finish. This wine is light in all it’s aspects except for the toast which is a little strong maybe for some people. Upon my second tasting around 10 hours later, there was an addition of nutmeg on the nose, and the toast on the palate may be a bit subdued.
Rating: An soft elegant oaked chardonnay with light fruit flavours. Give the wine a bit of time to breathe to let the fruit open more and the oak soften.
SOAHC Estate Wines Riesling 2013 – Pear skin colour in the glass. It has a flinty, petrol, honey and citrus nose, with a hint of white flowers. A youthful nose. On the palate this wine is dry with medium plus acidity and fruit flavour, and light body. Light lime, pears, citrus (subdued), flowers and a hint of petrol on the palate. There was also an odd/interesting flavour that reminded me of roasted chestnuts. By the time of my second tasting, that roasted chestnut flavour disappeared, and it was quite interesting that the acidic prickle on the tongue decreased and the wine moved from dry to slightly off-dry. Honey and petrol a bit more pronounced. The wine finished with some bitter leaf and the roasted chestnut upon initial tasting, but on the second tasting, 10 hours later, the wine was all smooth, with honey and stone fruit. The wine was VERY pretty in my opinion at the second tasting.
Rating: A wine that opens up and gives you fruit and honey together with balanced acidity, but it is only revealed to those that will give this wine some time to breathe.