Thanks to Jack for organizing a thought-provoking and eye-opening theme for Wine Blogging Wednesday this month. See his site The Fork & Bottle for a host of information on the farm philosophy that is biodynamism and what it means for wine and wine drinkers.
To me, the biodynamic wine I tasted -- a Chenin Blanc-Chardonnay blend from the Loire -- was just another wine. It was a very nice wine, but nothing really set it apart from the other wines I've drinking lately. But what have I been drinking? Surprise! Looking at Jack's master list of biodynamic wines, I see that I've been downing a lot of biodynamic wine this month without even knowing it. Movia and Clos Roche Blanche both use biodynamics. Those two wines, along with the WBW wine I'm submitting from Clos de le Briderie, do seem to offer plenty of lively fruit and expressive personality. Could it be that the biodynamics behind them gives them their kick?
It's hard to say. How many other wines have I been appreciating and not realizing their bio status? Could I see a pattern once I sort out which is which? You'd have to put several similar bottles back-to-back to try and determine how these wines separate themselves from the rest of the pack.
But that's part of the trouble with biodynamics. Right now, it's hard to separate them out at all. Many wine vendors, including the state-run SAQ in Quebec where I shop, don't acknowledge or market these wines. That is to say the provincial wine database only goes so far as to label wines as organic, or agrobiologique in French. The SAQ employee I spoke to said that certification is an contentious issue for biodynamic wines and as a result there is no effort to categorize them at the SAQ (where are known by the French term biodynamique).
During my research and preparation, I bought two other wines. I found these ones first and they both were expensive, which made me think that biodynamic wines are pricier than the average wine. Now I see that that was a bit of a coincidence and that there are mid-range and bargain wines available.
The bottle I ended up opening last night was only $16. It was the Clos de la Briderie Touraine-Mesland 2005 (blanc), which is pictured above. Here is the file offered by the SAQ for this Loire Valley white blend:
This wine is produced at a small nine-hectare vineyard where no herbicides, insecticides, acaricides or chemical fertilizers are used. Made from 80% Chenin and 20% Chardonnay grapes that are picked by hand, the wine is aged partly in oak barrels. Organic.On the bottle label the ABV is actually measured at 12.5%. Additionally, my notes differ on the smoky/woody front: I did not really notice the oak to tell you the truth. But in hindsight I can imagine it there, making this wine one of those really well-integrated whites.
Tasting Note: The nose is mineral and a little smoky. The mouth is highly expressive, with a sharp, lemony attack that provides freshness and body. Notes of ripe apple create roundness and suppleness in the finish.
Food Pairing: Ideal with mussels marinière or lobster.
Alcoholic Strength 13.1 %
The label also mentions that this wine is from old vines -- Vieilles Vignes -- and that this cuvée garners the Demeter brand, meaning that this wine is made from grapes harvested biodynamically -- vin issu de raisins cultivée en agriculture biodynamique.
On the back label there are two more authentications. One for Ecocert and another for BIODYVIN (Vignoble cultivée en bio-dynamie). It's no wonder the SAQ doesn't know what to do with all these battling certifications.
But never mind that. How did it fare with dinner? It was straw-coloured and had a mineral aroma with a hint of pears and a strong raciness about it. It tasted of exotic fruit -- banana and apple with a touch of honey and endowed with a full body and a lovely finish. It had big acidity but with creamy notes. Overall, a vibrant wine, as it was tingly and fresh on the first and second nights.
I would serve this Chenin with almost anything as it seems to go with both delicate and light dishes as well as robust and heavy dishes. Just don't serve it too cold! Try it at 8 degrees Celsius. I had the wine as a complement to leek quiche with a salad and roasted cauliflower. Then on the next night, I made something recommended by the bottle, which was fish. I had trout with lemon and saffron basmati rice and a side of charred Brussels sprouts with garlic. Very yummy.
This versitile wine handled both, dynamically!
Vincent Girault, Monteaux, France. 12.5%.