I attended one another masterclass on “living soil” , this time at REAL, hosted by Tom Lubbe and Craig Hawkins, two South African winemakers. Tom pioneered a biodynamic way of farming in South Africa in the 90′s and is now making wine in the Roussillon at Domaine Matassa and Craig makes wine for Lammershoek and under his own label Testalonga. One of the typical characteristics of a living soils are earth worms and Craig spoke about the earth worm farm at Lammershoek, created to introduce more worms back into the earth, as the soil slowly recovers from all the previous treatments. Tom on the other hand spoke about the relationship about minerality and a living soil, as he believes we cannot have the former without the later. He claims that a living soil, resulting from biodynamic farming will stabilize the PH in he grapes as in the must and thus eliminate the need to use sulphur or other additives. In a way this was pretty close to what Nicolas Joly had said about the wine making process resulting from biodynamic farming which he believed happened naturally in the cellar without much interference of the wine maker. All the winemaker has to do is provide a clean and healthy environment in the cellar. After all this theory I want to speak a little about what impressed me most in the biodynamic wines I tasted at both events. Providing the cellar environment was indeed clean and healthy, these wines really stood out. They seem to have a pureness and elegance which time after time astonished me. They reflected their terroir to the point that one can almost imagine the land and its beauty whilst tasting. But most of all they were extremely balanced in all aspects – alcohol level, acidity, sweetness and tanin structure – no matter where they came from. (Loire, Roussillon, Alsace, Champagne, Austria, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa).
A writeup of the RAW wine fair from missinwine.com: