Notes on “Return To Terroir”

Last Saturday I attended “Return To Terroir” for the trade tasting of biodynamically produced wines. The tour represented about 50 of the top biodynamic wine producers in the world and included such well known names as Frog’s Leap, Grgich Hills and Benziger Family Winery of California, Domaine Marcel Deiss and Zind-Humbrecht of France’s Alsace region, Castagna of Australia, Descendientes de J. Palacios of Spain and Millton Vineyard of New Zealand.

Now, I’m not going to go into the perceived voodoo and alchemy aspects of the more extreme elements of the biodynamic farming community and I won’t be burying female cowhorns filled with cow manure or ground up quartz in my garden anytime soon, but if you believe that good wine can be made without the use of chemical fertilizers or waging chemical warfare in the vineyard to control crop destroying pests, nasty molds and fungii and a miscellany of diseases, then you should definitely try some of these biodynamically produced wines.

It turns out that like conventionally produced wines these come in drinkable and not so drinkable versions, but surprisingly to some, the drinkable versions can not only be eminently drinkable but in many cases reach the sublime, easily competing with the best in the world.
I for one am going to make more room in my cellar for biodynamically grown wines.

I was a bit pressed for time due to prior engagements so I was not able to taste all or even most of the offerings, hence my modest list below is far from conclusive and may miss out on many other excellent wines representing the BD wine category.
Nevertheless, and not in any particular order, here are some wines I could definitely recommend.

Chateau Romanin La Chapelle Romanin 2004 (Provence) ($21)
Domaine Valentin Zusslin (Alsace) Riesling Grand Cru 2004 ($56.95)
Zind-Humbrecht (Alsace) – all four presented:

  • Riesling Gueberschwihr ($39.65)
  • Gewurztraminer Herrenweg de Turckheim ($43.60)
  • Pinot Gris Rangen de Thann Clos-Saint-Urbain ($89.25)
  • Pinot Gris Clos Jebsal Vendage Tardive ($57)

Compania de Vinos Telmos Rodriguez Altos de Lanzaga 2004 Rioja Alavesa ($92)

Unfortunately, some of my truly favorite ones are not available through merchants or the LCBO. These member-growers are not (yet) represented in Canada/Ontario.
One of these was a spectacular old vines Tuscan (60% Sangiovese, 20% Syrah, 20% Merlot) by Tenuta Di Valgiano. Oh well.

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