The Art & Science of Biodynamics
Through the Grapevine: Nov. 2012
Biodynamic viticulture is a well practiced, but little understood philosophy by the wine consumer. This holistic method of growing and making wine is based on the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925), and his belief that the farm (or vineyard) is an organism in its own right, where soil, plant, animal and man work together as one agricultural whole.
His methods and practices, which include things like cow horn manure preparations and nettle tea sprays, are combined with an acceptance that all things are ultimately influenced by forces beyond the earth, and that these forces stamp themselves on the morphology of plants.
Two practitioners of Steiner’s philosophy in Austria are Fred Loimer from Weingut Loimer in the Kamptal region, and Niki Moser from Weingut Sepp Moser in the Kremstal. Both draw inspiration from Steiner’s methods, but each has adopted an approach that best fits his own approach.
It was in 2003 that Fred Loimer began to question the accepted ways of viticulture in the family business he had taken over in 1997. In response to a succession of tough harvests that saw vineyards struggle with bad weather and frosts, he began working with biodynamic consultants, transforming the various vineyards according to his newly adopted philosophy.
In establishing a viable balance of method and economics, Loimer and a group of other similarly inspired vignerons formed an association called Respect in 2007. This appellation on the label indicates that grapes are produced according to EU bio laws, but with the added practices and inspirations set forth by Steiner. This is not a dogmatic adherence to Steiner’s teachings, but a process of adaptation with one guiding desire: to produce wines of the highest possible quality.
A tasting of the Loimer wines shows a precision of fruit and distinctness of variety that is in itself inspiring. The Terrassen Grüner Veltliner Kamptal Reserve 2011 (€15.50) balances spiciness with refreshing fruits of nectarines, melon and mandarin, with a fine structure and cleansing mineral acidity.
The Terrassen Riesling Kamptal Reserve 2011 (€16) surprises with spring lime, white peach and pineapple, and has a juicy mouth feel from the interplay of acid and some residual sugar.
Finally, with the Zöbing Heiligenstein Kamptal Reserve 2010 (€39) we see a wine of aristocratic origin. A combination of mineral sands, limestone, and a refined palate of fresh citrus, lends itself to long-term ageing. A wonderful wine!
Niki Moser’s journey into Biodynamics was cemented while on a trip to Alsace in France, visiting a famed producer there. The region had suffered terrible frost and many vineyards had browned. But there amongst the carnage was a vineyard still shining with biodynamic vitality, and it was here that Niki realised his move into Steiner’s world was secure.
So, from 2000, vineyards in Kremstal and Neusiedlersee were gradually transformed using the strict guidelines set out by Steiner, and it is with Niki’s firmly-held belief of total immersion and integration into the vineyard, that he became one of the early practitioners in Austria. It was in 2005, however, that a contract with Demeter, the only worldwide ecological association and promoter of the Biodynamic faith, stamped the Sepp Moser business as a truly holistic environment.
Weingut Loimer: www.loimer.at
Weingut Sepp Moser: www.sepp-moser.at