design for a sustainable future
The United Nations is marking 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. The variety of life on Earth is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services on which our lives depend. Back in 1924 Rudolf Steiner gave a lecture on biodynamic agriculture. He then already realised that shrinking biodiversity poses a risk not only to human beings, but to the planet as a whole.
In recent years we have seen a growing trend in biodynamic wines. 'The highest possible quality in tune with nature' - this is the philosophy behind biodynamic wines and there is a growing numbers of vintners demonstrating that biodynamic viniculture is the precondition for first class authentic wines with character. The goal is individuality rather than mass products.
Biodynamic viniculture is very demanding and the vine is seen as part of the natural environment rather than a production unit. The wine is therefore a result of the soil (terroir) and the local micro climate and not a technical or chemical 'lab'.
The diversity of plants and animals is the main guarantee for the natural and healthy growth of the vine and as a consequence, grapes and wines of the best quality. Weeds are kept low but not eradicated. They keep the soil nutritious and loose. Artificial irrigation and fertilizer is not needed. Insects and birds keep damaging vermin in check. The soil is treated as gently as possible. Indeed,some vintners still work with horses rather than machines. Harvesting machinery is banned and only ripe and healthy grapes are harvested and processed. This cuts out many of the 'aids' conventional vintners are using and a healthy product is the result.
Biodynamic viniculture is much more demanding than conventional methods and requires a deep understanding of the locality, the seasonal growth and biodiversity. Although the labour input is much higher, the yields are 50 to 70 per cent lower. The results are unique wines which reflect the terroir they come from as well as the skills of the vintner.
Château Lassolle from the Côtes du Marmandais in the South West of France is an estate run according to biodynamic principles. Stéphanie Roussel, originally from Normandy, purchased these old vines before her neighbour Elian da Ros, one of the best winemaker and Terroiriste in France, had a chance to have a look at it. The results are impressive. Driven bio-dynamically, the vines give intense, deep wines with incredible texture. The blend is 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot and 30% Syrah, Fer Servadou, Malbec & Arbouriou .
Château Lassolle can be purchased through www.aubertandmascoli.com .