Courtesy of The Academic Wino
Biodynamics is “the basic new way of thinking about the relationship between earth and soil to the formative forces of etheric, astral and ego activity of nature”. Biodynamic agriculture has gained increasing support from winemakers around the world.
Biodynamic agriculture requires the use of nine biodynamic field and compost preparations in homeopathic proportions in order to maintain the flow of energy and vitality in the vineyard. Biodynamic agriculture is a relatively well-documented area aptly covered first by the “Agriculture Course”, a series of 8 lectures given by Dr. Steiner in 1924.
Biodynamic winemaking, an area highly relevant to biodynamic viticulture and yet it has only been formalized in June 2008 as an essential part of “Standards for Demeter/ Biodynamic Wine”. Arguably, the standards required for fulfillment fell short of the expectations of France and Italy, both of which have their own disciplinary bodies to regulate and monitor whether biodynamic standards are strictly conformed by Demeter certified wineries in their countries. Nonetheless, the 2008 standards laid down a few rules for Demeter certified wineries on alcoholic fermentation, which were to be enforced from the 2008 vintage onward. These standards include the following:
- Fermentation technique: Heating to speed up fermentation is permitted. Pasteurization is disallowed.
- Choice of yeast: Indigenous yeasts, pied de cuve (Demeter or organic), Demeter or organic yeast, GMO free commercial yeast are allowed.
- Yeast nutrients: Demeter/ organic yeast hulls are allowed. All other forms of nutrients require approval from respective organizations.
In 2011, a group of Italian researchers looked deeper into the chemistry behind biodynamic winemaking, specifically examining the evolution of indigenous yeasts during different spontaneous biodynamic alcoholic fermentation processes.
For that study, Trebbiano grapes grown along principles of biodynamic agriculture were picked from an Italian winery in Abruzzo, harvested by hand as is required by Demeter standards, and randomly placed into five different treatments after soft crushing.