Do you want to perfect your biodynamics? Get dirt on your dirt? Here’s a short Earth Month playlist, with a focus on carefully grown wines. Some are old, some new, but all are timeless in their themes of environmental stewardship.
Biodynamic champion and winemaker from the South of France Gerard Bertrand launching a new book this month, Nature at heart: for a better world. Named “Green Personality of the Year” in 2020 by the British professional magazine “Drinks Business”, the Languedoc winemaker has been an evangelist of biodynamic agricultural practices since 2002. In his previous book, Wine, moon and stars: an experience from the south of France (2015), a memoir from growing up in the south of France, he presented his idea that working in balance with nature to cultivate and produce wine is a meditation and a spiritual journey. Frequently called upon for both his expertise and his passion, Bertrand’s American book tour will include wine masterclasses.
Another recent participant of a French author, is Biodynamic viticulture: understanding the vine and its rhythms (Floris Books, 2021). Translated from French and edited by Jean-Michel Florin, leader of the French biodynamic movement (Mouvement d’Agriculture Bio-Dynamique), the book is a guide for biodynamic winegrowers and potential converts. Florin is an instructor in Goethean Science, a natural philosophy derived from German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that takes a 360 degree approach to science and nature, emphasizes the intimate and intuitive experience between the observer and observed it. It’s a philosophy that goes well with biodynamics and which, according to Florin, sets an essential course for the future.
Just before the pandemic flattened the earth, the BELIEVED wine fairs take off. Created by Frances first female Master of Wine Isabelle Legeron and held in Berlin, London, Los Angeles, Montreal and New York, the events have attracted a young, hip crowd of natural wine lovers and a growing migration from the old school. The year of the closure, Légeron publishes the third edition of its popular Natural Wine: An Introduction to Naturally Made Organic and Biodynamic Wines (Cico Books, 2020). Although now is not a time for drinking in person, the book came out at a time when people were rethinking much of their lives, including their drinking habits. Legeron’s book is a simple primer on natural wines, with explanations, introductions and recommendations for exploring the growing category.
Now that natural wine is less of an outlier, Alice Feiring Natural wine for people: what is it, where to find it, how to like it (Ten Speed Press, 2019) comes as a logical sequel to his pioneering 2011 book, Naked wine: letting the grapes do what comes naturally. Called the “original high priestess of natural wine”, Feiring is known not only for her James Beard award-winning writings, but also for her work demystifying esoteric wines and practices (read her love letter to Georgian wines, For the Love of Wine: My Odyssey through the World’s Oldest Wine Culture). In this book, she offers authoritative definitions, a roadmap for finding natural wines and their producers, and the best places to drink with other fanatics. The original illustrations would not be out of place in “The New Yorker” and would keep this book light and accessible.
As a former wine columnist for The Oregonian, Catherine Colewas well placed to write Voodoo Vintners: Oregon’s Amazing Biodynamic Winemakers (Oregon State University Press, 2011). Oregon is ground zero for Burgundian-style wines in the United States, and Cole’s column on biodynamic history and practices naturally leans towards Burgundy. She explains the markers and mysteries of biodynamics, the theories and skepticism and ultimately allows the reader to form their own opinion on the effectiveness of the movement. But by building the bridge from Burgundy to Oregon and connecting the movement to Oregon’s leading winemakers, it creates a comprehensive story about terroir, spiritualism, and practical business. Cole has moved largely from print to podcast as executive producer and host of The Four Top, a James Beard Award-winning food and drink podcast on NPR One.