Your Guide to Organic, Biodynamic and Natural Wine



From Beverage Media:

According to Michael Degen, Executive Director Messe Düsseldorf GmbH and Director of ProWein, “The numbers of organic producers have grown substantially over the years and this year some 250 exhibitors declare to have a specific focus on the category.” ProWein will feature a special section in Hall 6 titled “World of Organic Wine” featuring participants from Switzerland, South Africa, Bulgaria, Australia, France and Italy. Additionally there will be a “Top 100” tasting zone of award winning international organic wines. And of course many other producers in Hall 6 and other halls will be offering organic, sustainable and biodynamically produced wines as part of their portfolio, including a wide array from Wines of Chile.

The biodynamic sub-category has grabbed a lot of attention with passionate proponents adopting the controversial production system devised and introduced in Austria by Rudolph Steiner. The primary certification organization, Demeter, will have a booth at the trade fair along with seminars on the program. Also in attendance will be Ecovin, Respekt, Fepeco (Spain) and CCE (Croatia). Demeter is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2014 with a variety of seminars and special tastings listed on the ProWein website.


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Olivier Cousin Trial

Jim’s Loire has a 3 part write-up about Olivier Cousin’s day in court:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


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The fourth FIVE fair is gathering steam. This year it will be held in Pamplona’s Ciudadela (Fortress Park), a landmark of the Navarre capital, on the 6th and 7th of May. FIVE has become the great meeting point for the peninsula’s organic wines. More than 30 different D.O.s have participated in the three previous fairs and wines have been on show made from native varieties seldom seen on the modern market, as is the case with monastrell, bobal and viognier. The fair has attracted importers from more than 20 countries, among which are to be found the main buyers of this type of wine.

Following on from previous fairs, the aim is to have some 60 participating wineries, so that visitors will have sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the wines on show. FIVE’s hope is that quality will come out, the quality of the products on show. That is the reason why the emphasis of the fair is not on an advertising display by the wineries participating but on testing and getting to know the wines on an equal footing.

After three successful fairs attended by organic viticulturists from Spain, Portugal and France, FIVE has opted to optimise its efforts to energise the the sector. Accordingly, last year it decided to organise the event on a biannual basis, concentrating in the ‘odd’ years on organising other activities aimed at strengthening the presence of organic wine in international fairs and other events related to the sector. Last year, the first virtual fair took place with the participation of 56 Spanish, French and even Italian wineries.

FIVE is organised by AEN – the Association of Organic Agricultural Enterprises of Navarre. This year, as well as the fourth FIVE fair, it is organising an organic wine promotional drive for Prowein in March, Europe’s largest fair for the sector. Organic, biodynamic and natural wines from the south of Europe can participate in the fair and visitors can register without charge. For more information and registration visit our webpage: www.five-bio.com.


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From Dr. Vino:

Frédéric Niger Van Herck, a partner and the winemaker at Domaine de l’Ecu, posted the news that their “Expression de Granite” 2012, one of three bottlings that express the different soil types, has been denied the approval of the tasting committee. Here what he said on FB:

News of the day: Granite 2012 has just been rejected by the AOC tasting committee–and unanimously, no less… Promised for next year, full-on chemistry, mechanical harvesting, commercial yeasts, full use of enzymes, and sulphur galore… It should pass that way.

The worst thing is that everything is sold out and have nothing left… When will these official tastings end that turn the beautiful into standardized products? [my translation]

Long live the French wine!

He elaborated that the panel of five tasters judged his wine to be oxidized, adding “what a bunch of…”


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From Decanter:

A biodynamic winemaker who refused to spray his vines with insecticide against a dangerous disease has said he is confident of victory following a court hearing, but prosecutors want him fined.

Emmanuel Giboulot emerged from the courtroom in Dijon today (24 February) to announce that ‘our arguments were listened to and I am fairly confident’.

He was facing a fine of up to €30,000 and possibly prison, but prosecutors requested a fine of just €1,000, with half that amount suspended. A verdict is due 7 April.


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The director of Mondovino, Jonathan Nossiter, is releasing a new documentary about natural wine called “Natural Resistance.”

From Wine-Searcher:

While “Natural Resistance” is about wine, it is not intended to be a sequel to “Mondovino,” according to Nossiter. However, it’s likely to ruffle a few feathers. Not only does it extol the virtues of so-called “natural wine” – a term that has no agreed definition – it attacks the country’s quality system, the denominazione di origine controllata (DOC), as well as conventional grape growing methods.

“Natural Resistance” is “the most joyful and optimistic film I have ever made,” said Nossiter. But the introduction to the 86-minute documentary, published in the Berlin Film Festival brochure, will displease many Italian wine producers within the country’s DOC system: “What looks like a bucolic paradise, where intelligent people produce wine according to time-honored and organic methods, is actually revealed to be a battleground. The DOC association, which is supposed to look after the interests of independent vintners, promotes winemakers who produce vast amounts in a standardized quality; and the agricultural industry with its hygiene regulations excludes traditional methods of production.”

It adds: “The only thing saving the landscape from being totally destroyed is affluent foreigners using the old vineyards as summer holiday homes.”


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alan_york_prepsAlan York, a leading consultant for biodynamic viniculture, has passed away at 62. He worked extensively with Mike Benziger at Benzinger Family Winery, and other wineries around the world. Fellow grape grower Phil Coturri had this to say:

“Alan was a horticulturist at heart. Loved plants, gardens and the teachings of Steiner. His passion and understanding of biodynamics helped spread the word internationally. I will always cherish the time I spent with him walking vineyards, talking about balance. Talking about healing the earth by understanding our soils and the environment in which our plants grow. Celebrating balance in life, wines and earth.”

Benziger Winery sent us the following about Alan’s life:

Alan Lynn York was born January 18, 1952 in Whitehouse, Texas and grew up in Morgan City, Louisiana. He told vivid stories of pirogue trips into the swamps and marshes nearby. He loved visits to Granny York, Aunt Willie and Uncle Lloyd on their farm in the pine forests of East Texas. Alan hated school and ran away to California at age 16. He returned home, finished high school, then moved permanently to Santa Barbara, California where he met his first love: horticulture.

Alan never willingly read anything until he began to garden. Then he read voraciously, first on organic gardening, then everything from Liberty Hyde Bailey to Rudolf Steiner, from soil management to orcharding, viticulture and landscape design. His first quest was “How can I grow the best plants without poisons and other chemical inputs?” After some years of gardening, landscaping, and fun in Santa Barbara, he met Alan Chadwick, a charismatic English gardener, actor, and teacher, well known for his amazing gardens at UC-Santa Cruz.

Chadwick relocated to Covelo, California where very dedicated apprentices joined him to create a garden project to demonstrate Chadwick’s French Intensive methods and his approach to biodynamics. Alan York served his apprenticeship, then joined the staff and finally was Head Gardener. After three years at Covelo, he departed and Chadwick said of him, “That young man has an enormous store of practical knowledge.” He threw himself into learning every practical thing he could, endlessly practicing each technique of propagating, fertilizing, irrigating, and cultivating every kind of plant in the garden. And he began to devote himself unstintingly to the spirit of the earth, to opening his heart to the heart of the earth. To observe his work was to see a perfect marriage of technique raised to art.

Two sides of Alan existed the remainder of his life. The easily visible part was the marriage of his ever-growing practical skills and landscape design capacities with his keen study of academic horticulture. He amassed quite a library. The less visible part was his devotion to the spirit, which he pursued through meditation each morning upon arising, and his form of karma yoga: serving the earth and its inhabitants through work.

Alan went to Detroit where he co-directed the horticultural education and gardens of the Waldorf Institute of Mercy College-Detroit. Then to Missouri where he directed the American Farm Institute, and finally back to his true home—California. Alan spent his remaining 21 years establishing an intensive apple orchard in Boonville, a large vineyard near Ukiah, very extensive work at Benziger Family Winery—now the leading biodynamic vineyard in California, and an ever-expanding international vineyard consultancy that took him to Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Italy, Israel, and France. He served as president of the Biodynamic Association for seven years and also edited the “Biodynamics” quarterly journal.

He will be remembered by his many friends, co-workers, and clients for his astounding sense of humor, infectiously deep laughter, keen wit and intellect, and devotion to his art and craft. In later years he could describe the difficult concepts of biodynamics with a warmth and clarity that few have achieved. Had he lived a few more years he would have achieved great international renown. Alan York is survived by his devoted soul-mate and wife, Rose Ann, his son, August, his mother Joyce Williams and his sister, Jan Flowers. Alan departed this life on February 3 , 2013.


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Jenny & François Selections is pleased to announce the 2014 Natural Winemakers’ Week, March 1-6!

Set your tweets to hashtag #nww14!

Natural, Organic, and Biodynamic Winemakers from France, Italy, Spain, and the USA are coming to NYC for a week of wine dinners, classes, and free tastings. Set your tweets to #nww14!

SATURDAY, MARCH 1

11a-5pm: Astor Center Grand Tasting 399 Lafayette St, 4th St, NYC, (212) 674-7501

Tickets $29 at www.astorcenternyc.com – this event sells out quickly!

SUNDAY, MARCH 2

4-7pm: Appellation Wine & Spirits 156 Tenth Ave, NYC (212) 741-9474

Free Tasting

8pm: The Farm on Adderley 1108 Cortelyou Road, Brooklyn (718) 287-3101

Winemaker dinner with Christian Binner, Clement Cousin, and Hardy Wallace (Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery).

Featuring a seasonal, hearty meal to compliment the natural wine. $75/person

Reservations required – thefarmonadderleyevents@gmail.com

MONDAY, MARCH 3

10am-5pm: Jenny & Francois Portfolio Tasting 287 Spring Street between Hudson and Varick St

Trade and press only

Please RSVP – call 646-775-6400 or info@jennyandfrancois.com

TUESDAY, MARCH 4

5-7pm: Fermented Grapes 651 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn (718) 230-3216

Free Tasting

8pm: The Ides Bar – Wythe Hotel 80 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn (718) 460-8000

Party featuring all the winemakers, wines by the glass.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 5

5-7pm: Chambers Street Wines Tasting 148 Chambers Street, NYC (212) 227-1434

Free Tasting

8pm: Aska Restaurant 90 Wythe Avenue Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718) 388-2969

Winemaker dinner with Dirty and Rowdy Family Winery. $150/person (including tax + gratuity)

Reservations required – reservations@askanyc.com

More Events to be announced! Please visit www.jennyandfrancois.com/nww14 for updates and tastings throughout the city.


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