Sunday, 3 April 2011

Can You Feel The (Biodynamic) Rhythm?

A friend, Whee Teck, is an absolute genius with the camera. He has the knack of knowing exactly when to take a shot, and the correct angle to maximise the amount of light available. Today he told me his secret, which is.... listening to music. "Many things in life are related," he tells me. "Just like Leonardo da Vinci translated mathematics into art, music and photography have a common theme. They are about finding the rhythm, the right time to shoot or the right beat." 

It's much the same when it comes to wine. Wine is art, science, human psychology, cultural history, a source of relaxation and a product of hard work. It encompasses myriad fields, and is enjoyed by people of various backgrounds. Biodynamic winemaking is perhaps the ultimate combination of art and science, whose proponents believe that wine is influenced not only by soil and man, but also the spiritual power of the cosmos. The timing of vineyard activities are dictated by the movements of the moon and other celestial bodies, and all preparations must be "energised" by stirring them first one way and then the other. The goal of biodynamic winemaking is to make wine in harmony with nature, so that the vine is more resistant to disease and produces better quality fruit.

Many people do not believe that this philosophy works, and even some who are practicing it would prefer not to label their wines as such. Yet proof is in the tasting, and the biodynamic wines I tried have displayed a clear purity of fruit and concentration of flavour. A case in point is the 2009 LA 50/50 Vin de Table Domaine Anne Gros et Jean-Paul Tollot, a joint venture between Anne Gros (who practices organic/biodynamic farming) and her husband. Made from a blend of Carignan, Cinsault and Grenache, the wine was fresh, beautifully balanced and possessed of a vibrant energy that had my friends and I competing for the singular bottle.

There is still much that we do not know about winemaking, and what we scoff at today may eventually become the norm in the future. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the fruits of different winemaking philosophies and methods. Now that's music to my ears.

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