Friday, October 21, 2016

Organic and Biodynamic in Champagne? Reason for Hope

Don't miss Caroline Henry's very fine piece in WineSearcher.com on the 2016 harvest in Champagne and growers' increasing (albeit small) interest in using organic and Biodynamic farming techniques.

Champagne has been a region where pesticides are more heavily used than in many others in France. (Bordeaux uses more, according to Henry). If you saw the film A Year in Champagne, you may recall the scene where a helicopter is spraying pesticides on camera.

Henry's story highlights:

• Legislation is being considered in France that could restrict pesticide use in vineyards 25% by 2020.  (What a contrast to the scene in California, eh?)

• Organic and Biodynamic vineyards fared well in comparison to their chemically farmed counterparts in the 2016 vintage in Champagne

One interesting note for us here in California: Roederer, one of Champagne's major producers, with 568 acres in the region, has 20+ acres of Biodynamic vines it is piloting in Champagne.

Here in California, the company has three estate wineries in Mendocino's Anderson Valley (Domaine Anderson, Roederer Estate and Scharffenberger Cellars), and a similarly small percentage of its vines here are organic or Biodynamic.

Domaine Anderson, its newest winery in Anderson Valley, has just recently certified 17 acres of Biodynamic vines. It also has two smaller certified organic vineyards as well. (Alas, no sparkling wines - just Pinot Noir - is made from Domaine Anderson).

I hadn't heard anything from the Roederer folks I spoke with here about their Biodynamic vines in Champagne, so that was interesting to discover that they have 20+ acres there.

Of course, we do have a limited number of sparkling wine options here in the U.S. for organically or Biodynamically grown wine - McFadden's Brut, Terra Savia, and Alma Rosa are some. Selected vintages of some Domaine Carneros sparkling wines are also organically grown (and bottle labeled with certification). Others include Sea Smoke Cellars and Johan Vineyard's Pet Nat (Biodynamic).

Maybe one day, sigh, Roederer's Mendocino sparkling wines from Mendocino will be on that list.