We are all very familiar with the term “organic” these days - not least from our day to day food shopping experiences. Organic wine, if accredited – like foods – is made with no added synthetic pesticides or herbicides – or any other synthetic chemicals such as “artificial” fertilisers.
As mentioned in the previous blog on additives – even some organic wines though will then include the preservative sulphur dioxide (SO₂), although several food items will also use this agent (marked as E220 on the back label) – such as dried fruits, pre-prepared fruit salads and soft drinks.
As with biodynamic wines true organic wines must be registered to and part of an accredited organisation such as The Soil Association of Britain, which will have its own code of practice and regulations for members.
In reality though, many produces these days regularly operate to what they describe as “organic principles” but will not actually be a bona fide member of a formal organisation. In France they term this as “Lutte Raisonnée” – or “reasoned struggle” – sometimes accompanied with a ladybird symbol. These producers are not strictly organic but will ensure that as many of their practices as possible adhere to natural processes. However, and very practically, if they face a particularly difficult year where rot, for example, is highly prevalent – and the only way to avert a complete ruin of their harvest is by spraying a herbicide - then they will use it.
And even more practically, as one Vigneron once recited to me in the Rhône, “How can I be “organic” when my neighbour regularly sprays his vines (with synthetic treatments) and the spray cloud drifts across onto my crop!?”
Today, therefore, “sensitive” vine growing and winemaking is commonplace and true biodynamic producers are much rarer, but they include some big names, such as the fabled Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy, and Chapoutier in the Rhône to take just two examples. They are also becoming more popular with smaller and more artisan producers as the fashion for “Natural Wine” grows (again please refer again to the Additives Blog). But what then makes a biodynamic producer, and what is different from simply being organic?
Nigel Greening – owner of the famous Central Otago estate Felton Road (himself a Biodynamic follower) whimsically described the discipline to me as “Organics meets Harry Potter”.
Biodynamic wine producers are by definition already organic, but then take matters significantly further. Central to the issue is the calendar which divides days into Flower, Fruit, Leaf and Root categories according to the influence of the moon and stars on the Earth’s natural rhythms.” So there you are!
And on that note here are a recommended selection of organic Jarrold wines which stand out for their quality and well as the purity of their manufacture. We are continuing with our wine suppliers to hunt out more and better examples of these wines and we should see this aspect of the Jarrold portfolio expand over the next few years.