Next wine tasting

Organic & Bio-dynamic Wines

Our nest tasting is on Wednesday 20th Feb, at the Moor Club, Heaton Moor.

 In reality, there is nothing new about organic wines. 50 to 60 years ago practically all wines were made without using pesticides and fertilisers.

There were fewer brand labels and many more individual farmers just trying to grow the best grapes

Then came the advice, use fertilisers to increase production but at the cost of quality. To save every bunch of grapes use pesticides to kill everything off, including the natural yeasts that used to ferment the wine. You can use more powerful yeasts that can enhance the flavours. Then a vicious circle started that more fertilisers had to be used as there were no nutrients being replaces . Any form of weed or growth had been killed off. There were more diseases on the vines as the living predators had been killed off. As there was no mulch the soils were bare. Any nutrients began to be washed away. And so on ….

Many people converted to organic farming with no fertiliser and a limited amount of pesticides. and some went further to biodynamic practises. Paul Boutinot wrote We firmly believe that conventional farming methods (such as using chemical pesticides and fertilizers), combined with modern, standardized and overly- interventionist winemaking techniques (such as the use of aromatic yeasts to create a signature aroma profile in a given wine), aid to breakdown both seemingly obvious, and indeed more subtle differences between various vineyards and winegrowing areas. The result over the past 30 years has been an increased homogenization of the character of wines made from one place to another.

Measures we introduced to achieve Biodiversity Champion status and subsequently, to convert Waterkloof to biodynamic farming include:

  • Installing drip irrigation as a more efficient system to conserve water
  • Introducing biological control of pests as an alternative to chemical spraying
    – Introducing a formal nature conservation plan
    – Clearing approximately 45 hectares of our land from alien invader species
    – Introducing several preventive erosion control measures
    – Re-establishing natural vegetation in previously disturbed areas
    – Providing migration corridors for species between isolated areas of natural vegetation
    –  Mulching of winter cover crops to create a healthy environment for the natural predators of vine pests
    – Installing perches for birds of prey in order to use natural rodent control measures
    – Utilizing the natural, biodynamic preparations 501-508 on the vines, in the soil and within our composts.
    – Working with six Percheron horses to plough, compost, spray and harvest the vineyards instead of using tractors, in order to reduce damage to the soil and vines and to reduce carbon emissions
    – Keeping a flock of chickens, to reduce the number of pests in the vineyard and to bring more nitrogen back into our soil and composts

Our first wine is from La Mancha, Spain and its main grape is Airen. Arbeor Airen Organic has been blended with just 7% Chardonnay which has made all the difference to this normally bland grape. We follow this with the Austrian  Classic Style Organic Grüner Veltliner. This is a lovely refreshing white. We then move on to the Biodynamic Circumstance Chardonnay.

The first red is a Rioja Ontañón Ecológico. Ontañón make 300 barrels dedicated to organic wines. Harmonious and elegant, this is everything modern Rioja should be. We then head off to the Casablanca valley to try a Novas Gran Reserva Carmenere/Cabernet which brims full of bright fruit.  Then to Valencia and a robust Monastrell called Galeam. hopping over the border to Corbieres we try Chatau Coulon. Finally a Shiraz from Australia, Yangarra PF which is organic and biodynamic from the McLaren Vale  

All these wines will be available for tasting on Wednesday 20th Feb. at 8.00pm, in the Moor Club, Heaton Moor. Places are £12 and should be reserved by contacting us.