Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Wine Blog Wednesday 29 - Biodynamic Wines

As Im on holiday this week, Im raiding my own "stash" for this edition of WBW. Luckily I have several bottles that qualify, probably more so than were I to raid the hotel cellars. Biodynamic wines are almost like the ultimate in niche wines. There is a lot of debate around the "effects" of biodynamic production, which follows the principles of agriculture laid down by Rudolf Steiner (of Steiner Schools "fame") in the 1800's. In a nutshell Biodynamic farming follows the cycles of the moon and hence the tidal flow of water to dictate when certain practices are carried out, planting, pruning, cropping etc. There is also a fairly strict set of dictates as to what treatments the plants may recieve, and that which comes from the soil is all returned to the soil. Practitioners of the method include the great and glorious of the wine industry across the world - Jacques Selosse, Didier Dageneau, Nicholas Joly, Ron Laughton, Jacques Seysses, Sybille Kuntz, Lalou Bize-Leroy, Aubert de Villaine, Alvario Palacios and many many more. A comprehensive list can be found at which is quite fortutious as fork and bottle are the hosts of this months WBW.
A quick look down that list shows that many of these wines are fairly expensive. They command high prices, and they regularly get them, with great reviews to boot. So maybe there is something to Biodynamic farming.

The wine that I chose for WBW is a Chambolle Musigny from Domaine Dujac. Its a premier cru from the lieu-dit of "les Gruenchers", from the 1985 vintage. I first came across the wines of Dujac when I was working at Amaryllis in Glasgow. One of our regulars was a "Parker-chaser", regularly seeking out high scoring wines. I was tipped off to this fact by one of my suppliers who also happened to supply him. From then on, Francis would give me advance information on the wines that Mr R. wanted, and I would then snap them up. It worked for everybody, except Mr R who had to pay restaurant prices instead of retail for the wines that he wanted.

As the wines are unfiltered it has a fine suspension of particles and there is quite a bit of sediment down the side of the bottle. Looking through the bottle the colour seems light and I can easily see through the bottle, possibly suggesting some colour loss. The ullage is about half an inch short of a full bottle, which is not great news, but not neccessarily bad news either. Ive got a bad feeling about this after taking the foil off, as there is quite a strong aroma of tca coming off the top of the cork. Phewwwwww, ewwwww!!!!!!!! I dont even have to pour any from the bottle to tell its corked. I havent had a stinker like that for a while, but man that is really bad.

Plan B - Didier Dagueneau Blanc Fume En Chailloux 1997. Yup nearly nine years old. Dagueneau is considered the wild man of the Loire Valley. Apparently standing over six foot tall, with a mane of shocking red hair, he cuts an impressive figure so Im led to believe. I have a friend who met him once who told me he ploughs his vineyards with a horse drawn plough! In the seven years now that Ive been doing this Ive watched his wines increase in price enormously. But they are worth it. Silex, his top cuvee from the Loire, now retails at about £50 a bottle. On a restaurant wine list it come in at over £100. For a white wine from the Loire thats really expensive. En Chailloux is/was his entry level pouilly fume. He stopped making it in around 2001/2. The colour is a light straw colour, bright and clear. On the nose there is a strong green apple aroma with gooseberry and an unusual, aroma that reminds me of the lemon fairy liquid that we use at home. The fruit is still quite dominant on the flavour, although it isnt very acidic any more. There is a wet slate minerality to the wine that shows nicely without the searing acidity that youthful vintages show. A damned fine wine, that drinks really well on its own now. Not sure it would be as good with food, without the acidity to freshen the palate, but nice easy drinking on its own.

Bit gutted about the Dujac, after just going back to it, the cork-taint is still way strong, but there is an animal character behind the wine, that smells like sweaty horse. Not sure that if it wasnt tainted it would be any good anyway.

Well that wraps up my contribution for this months WBW. Looking forward to the round up and cant wait for the next one!


Jack said...

The Dujac being corked is such a shame! The oldest Dujac I've tasted is a 1993, which I really loved. Unfortunately the old ones go for crazy dollars here.

Antonio said...

The composer on the Didier Dagueneau Blanc Fume De Pouilly is Georges Brassens. From what I understand, like Dagueneau himself, he is somewhat of a character.