There is currently a trend towards natural, towards the consumption of products without chemicals. Many sectors deploy initiatives to minimize the impact of man on the planet, to take care of natural resources and ecology. The world of wine is no exception to this trend and we can find several manufacturers of ecological, natural, organic or biodynamic products on the market. They seem similar terms, but there are differences between each category that we are going to analyze in this note in order to make informed purchasing decisions.
ORGANIC OR BIOLOGICAL WINES
Organic wines are those generated without the use of chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides. To be able to say that a wine is organic, it must meet some requirements and follow international protocols that are detailed below:
– Producers of certified organic wines can buy grapes to make their wines but only from other certified organic producers.
– Organic parcels must be separated from others by natural barriers such as trees, living fences, stone fences or paths / divisions.
– The soil must be fertilized only with organic compost: vegetable residues from the winery itself, from the vineyard and fertilizer from the animals that live on the farm. The manure of the animals (cows, horses and sheeps) help to maintain the appropriate PH level).
– The control of vineyard diseases can only be carried out with natural products such as Bordeaux mixture (solution made with copper sulfate, lime and water) or micronized sulfur in controlled quantities.
– The control of bunch rot can only be carried out with leaf removal (removal of old leaves and leaves that prevent proper ventilation of the vineyard) and removal of unselected sprouts.
– Pest control is carried out exclusively through optical, acoustic systems (certain sounds not tolerated by birds are emitted for example), or biological (through the use of pheromones for insects). In some areas trees are planted around that do not attract birds or the plantations are covered with nets.
– Selected yeasts and added sulfites up to 80 PPM (parts per million) are used.
– They handle allowed corrections and stabilizations.
– The wines are clarified, filtered and bottled, not necessarily in origin.
– To obtain the organic wine certification, the establishment must go through a control and monitoring process of at least two years.
– The certifying organizations carry out an annual audit of the winery, the grape, the vineyard and the wine.
Biodynamic was created by Rudolf Steiner in response to alterations in the health of human beings after industrialization and as part of the lifestyle in cities. Steiner studied the ancestral habits, especially of the Mayan Indians and proposed to return to the sources of agriculture, take care of the land and produce healthy food. Biodynamic takes the identity of the terroir to its maximum expression. The farm is considered a self-sustainable closed system, the entry of external inputs is minimized to achieve its own biodiversity. In a biodynamic farm or vineyard, they have only the necessary animals to fertilize the plantations and only the number of animals that can be fed with the production of their own garden. In turn, aromatic herbs are planted to ward off pests and fertilize the soils. The producer takes into account the climate, soil and specific geography of the farm to manage agriculture in relation to the cosmos and universal energies.
– A preliminary study of the soil and natural barriers must be carried out. According to the results, it will be determined if the establishment has the possibility of being certifiable. It will also be defined if the land should be cleaned of chemicals, and where to implant the vines, corrals, orchards and aromatic plants.
– All activities such as fertilization, sowing, harvesting, pruning and compost are carried out according to the biodynamic calendar, based on the Mayan calendar. This calendar is governed by the influence of the sun, the moon and the tides on the earth and vine crops. The goal is to be in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
– They only use their own grapes, biodynamic producers cannot buy grapes from other places.
– Natural therapeutic preparations are made to control pests and diseases.
– They use native yeasts and added sulfites up to 80 PPM (parts per million)
– The vineyards are fertilized with organic compost and biodynamic preparations.
– The biodynamic preparations placed in the compost favour the microbiology of the soil. We detail its composition: 502 Yarrow flowers in deer bladder to promote potassium and sulfur / 503 Chamomile flowers in a bovine intestine to make the nitrogen of manure more durable / 504 Nettles to promote the structure and fertility of the soil / 505 Bark of oak in a skull to promote calcium and prevent plant diseases / 506 Dandelion flowers in cow mesentery to promote silicic acid, which is associated with photosynthesis / 507 Valerian flower extract to balance phosphorus and favor the formation of flowers and fruits.
– The vineyard is watered by sprinkling with homeopathic doses prepared in dynamizers. The dynamizers are barrels in which 2/3 of water are placed with 20 to 50 grams of the 501 or 500 preparation according to the time. The preparation 501 is made in horns with ground quartz-silica that makes the grapes have thicker skin, resistant to frost, pests and diseases. Preparation 500 is made with dung in horns that are buried in winter to accumulate cosmic forces. This compost comes from the farm’s own animals. After six months, if this compost is too rotten or too dry, it should be removed and other horns used in optimal conditions.
– The wines are not clarified or filtered and are bottled only at origin within the certified winery.
– The correction of the acidity of the wine (tartaric) is allowed by Demeter.
– The farm staff must be trained by the AADEA (Association of Biodynamic Advisors).
– To obtain the certification in biodynamics, the farm must be audited and sustain the processes for at least 4 years.
– The certification lasts only one year. To obtain it, the establishment must pass the annual vineyard and winery audit.
Demeter is the non-profit organization that certifies that the processes are sustainable and that they allow the natural healing and recovery of the earth. It not only certifies wines but all biodynamic products.
– They do not have added sulfites.
– Their tag should clarify “Contains no added sulfites”.
– They are not regulated or audited in their origin or in their winemaking process.
ECOLOGICAL / AGROECOLOGICAL / SUSTAINABLE WINES
There are some brands that, although they identify with this trend, do not meet all the requirements to carry the certification of organic or biodynamic wines. Perhaps they do perform part of the procedures, or all of them. But they have not yet completed the necessary time without using chemicals, to be able to obtain the quality seal.