Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine


Life of the Party

Life Pinot Noir is a new pet project for Cooper Mountain winemaker, Gilles de Domingo. I am a big fan of Cooper Mountain wines. All of their estate grown grapes are Demeter certified biodynamic.

Color: dark garnet
Aromas: earth, forest mushrooms and juicy cherry
Flavors: vibrant raspberry and more cherry, fresh herbs, wonderful acidity
Food match: Moroccan style tuna kebobs
Life is a biodynamic wine with no added sulfites. For the moment, only available at the winery and EcoVine Wine Club.

Gilles is from a winemaking family in Bordeaux and has made wine in France, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia before settling with Cooper Mountain in Oregon. I asked Gilles a few questions about Life and himself below.

Is LIFE available for purchase anywhere?

LIFE wine is produced on limited quantity (100 cases /year) therefore it can be find at the winery or on some shops.

Please tell me about the winemaking process for Life, especially about your thinking behind not adding sulfites.

The winemaking process is quite simple: Designation of block in our vineyard, cropping low, Native yeast, Native bacterias, Barrel aging, temperature of storage is at 55-56 degrees.

Starting 2002, Cooper Mountain Vineyards is producing a No Sulfite Added Wine because of several reasons:

1) Sulfites denature the aromatic profile of a wine and therefore, in a certain extent, it eliminates the notion of pure expression of terroir. A no sulfite added wine made from Biodynamic Grapes should be seen as the ultimate form of Biodynamic Wine.

2) Scientific reasons:

a) SO2 is a known to limit the oxidation of a wine (antioxidant). Because of numerous research tend to demonstrate the powerful antioxidant effect of polyphenols naturally contains in grapes, we believe that these polyphenols can replace the antioxidant effect in wine.

b) SO2 is known to limit the microbiological spoilage in wines. Based on the concept that microbiological spoilage could be prevented by applying the medical theory that the abuse of antibiotics will decrease the immune system of an human, the SO2 should be seen as an antibiotic and therefore decrease the natural population of positive yeast/bacterias. In conclusion, the objective is to “enrich” the level of native yeast/bacterias in the vineyard/cellar in order to compete with the negative population.

3) SO2 allergy
The owner of Cooper Mountain is a physician who believes that anybody should be able to drink wine.

What are your thoughts about sulfites and processes for avoiding the usual problems of sulfite free wine?

After the first addition of Sulfite in a wine (after ML for a Pinot Noir), any winemaker will notice a bleaching effect on the wine. This observation is the demonstration that sulfite is somewhat as some strong side effect which reduce the potential of a wine.

The process of avoiding problems are based on several factors:
– 90 % of a sulfite free wine is made on the vineyard: Naturally increasing the level of antioxidant on the berries by cropping low, avoiding excess spray, dry farming works better, exposition, etc…
– 10 % of a sulfite free wine is made on the cellar: If the berries are naturally healthy (full of life and good immune system), the job is quite very easy.

In conclusion, in our opinion with patience and dedication, the use of sulfites will tend to significantly decrease on the future because it could simply replaced naturally.

What is you first wine related memory?

As a good French teenager, partying with wine was a great think to do. Because my family had an enormous quantity of wine in their cellar, I was the kid in charge of taking some bottles in order to party with my friends. Years later and when I stopped to be a spoiled teenager, I realized that I was taking some 1964 Chateau Gruaud Laroze or Chateau Latour…Sorry dad!

What would be your favorite meal with a bottle of Life Pinot Noir?

Take a nice piece of steak (with fat around). Cook it with sea salt, garlic and put Pinot on the top of the steak. Serve it with Green beans. No sauce, please.