Only a tiny fraction of the world’s wine producers are “biodynamic”. It’s an odd concept. Sometimes it is thought of as being a mystic sect, sometimes people believe it is just another word for “organic”. Neither is true. Most importantly, it is a group of producers that include some top quality wineries making very exciting wines.
But what about the two mistaken beliefs? Well, there are some aspects of biodynamics that are hard to understand, yes, but most biodynamic wine producers simply say “I tried it and it seems to make a difference, and it works for me.” Also, all biodynamic wine producers are organic but not all organics are biodynamic. Biodynamics is a special niche within organics that have stricter rules and that use some sometimes odd practices. They are always controlled by a certifying organisation, mostly either the big international Demeter or the primarily French Biodyvin.
But back to the exiting wines. We recently had an opportunity to taste a wide selection of wines from Biodyvin and here are some of our favourite producers. The French Biodyvin, whose full name is Syndicat International des Vignerons en Culture Bio-Dynamique, has made itself a name as an association for high-quality biodynamic producers.
Biodyvin is a small association and it has specific quality standards for its members. Also, it certifies wine growers only, whereas Demeter certifies all types of biodynamic farming. The rules the members of both associations must follow are similar.
“Biodyvin started in 1995,” says Véronique Cochran, owner of Château Falfas in Bordeaux and one of the founders. “We were five producers, to begin with.” Véronique became the first president of Biodyvin. She had already grown her 20 hectares in Bordeaux biodynamic since 1989. She had extensive knowledge of this form of cultivation from home. Her father had a wine estate in the Loire Valley (now run by Véronique’s brother). The father was François Bouchet, one of the pioneers who started with biodynamics already in the 1960s. He later became France’s most famous biodynamic consultant. He travelled all over France and helped many of the producers now in Biodyvin to convert their vineyards.
Biodyvin now has 148 growers, mainly in France but also some in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland and Spain. Together, the members cover an area of approximately 3,700 hectares. To become a Biodyvin member, one must also be certified organic. The current president, since several years now, is the outspoken Olivier Humbrecht of the famous Domaine Zind-Humbrecht in Alsace.
Here are some of our biodynamic favourites, who are also Biodyvin members:
Domaine Montirius, southern Rhône valley
Christine and Eric Saurel met François Bouchet in 1996 and he helped them convert the entire estate’s 60 hectares in one go. “And we noticed improvements in the vineyard quickly”, says Christine. Elegant wines, complex but easy drinking. Always with a low content of sulphur and never, ever any oak.
Domaine Duseigneur, southern Rhône valley
Bernard Duseigneur has vineyards on both sides of the River Rhone, in Lirac and in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, where the cellar is located. Elegant and refreshing wines with great complexity, not least Châteauneuf-du-Pape in red and white 100% Clairette versions and the Lirac wine Antarès.
Domaine le Sang des Cailloux, southern Rhône Valley
This estate in Vacqueyras has 17 hectares and is run by Serge Férigoule and his son Frédéri. In 1990 Serge stopped using chemical herbicides and soon after he stopped using all synthetic products. The wines, like Serge, have a strong character.
Domaine Valentin Zusslin, Alsace
Valentin Zusslin is biodynamic since 1997. The estate’s Pinot Noir wines are among the best reds in Alsace but it is the wonderful Riesling wines that are the most memorable.
Champagne Fleury, Côte de Bar
Jean-Pierre Fleury was first in Champagne with biodynamic winegrowing. Already in 1992, he was certified by Demeter. These are crispy Champagnes with great intensity, concentration and flavour.
Champagne Françoise Bedel, Vallée de la Marne
In the westernmost part of the Vallée de la Marne, Françoise Bedel and her son Vincent Desaubeau make some of Champagne’s most characterful wines.
Domaine Le Roc des Anges, Vallée de l’Agly, Roussillon
Marjorie Gallet makes highly sought after wines in a personal style. Her signature is among other things extremely old vines.
Mas del Perié, Cahors
Fabien Jouves is a skilled winemaker who loves to experiment. Les Escure is a wonderfully juicy Malbec and Les Orange Voilée is a lightly oxidized Chenin Blanc with skin maceration in amphora for one year. Exciting wines.
Clos Puy Arnaud, Castillon, Bordeaux
Thierry Valette has 12 hectares on the right bank, next to Saint Emilion, and he has been biodynamic since 2004. His wines are very well balanced, refreshing and harmonious, always with well-integrated oak and a good structure.
Domaine Gramona, Penedès, Catalonia, Spain
A new member of Biodyvin since 2018. 65% of the production is cava, among others the superb and very intense Cava Imperial 2013 that has been aged on lees for 5 years.
Marc Kreydenweiss, Andlau, Alsace
Some of the best Alsace wines you can get. Superb locations including vineyards at the three Andlau Grand Crus: Wiebelsberg, Moenchberg and Kastelberg. Marc works with his son Antoine Kreydenweiss. The estate is biodynamic since 1989.
François Chidaine, Monlouis-sur-Loire, Loire Valley
François Chidaine is a master of producing crispy and intensely flavoured Chenin Blanc wines. Also attractive sparkling wines.
Domaine Roches Neuves, Saumur-Champigny
Thierry Germain makes some of the best Cabernet Franc wines in the Loire. They are powerful and dense but at the same time easy drinking.
Domaine Michel Magnien, Morey-Saint-Denis
Red Burgundy at its best. The domain is now run by the fifth generation Magnien, Michael’s son Frédéric.
— Britt & Per Karlsson