A glass of biodynamic wine can boost your ethical consumer credentials as much as it can give you a barrel of laughs.
Certified organic or natural wines increasingly frequent cellars and take centre stage on wine lists as thirsty pundits awaken to the fact that what’s in our glass is as important as what’s on our plate.
According to WRAP, the carbon footprint of an average bottle of wine is around 1.28kg CO2 – the equivalent to driving three miles in a Honda Accord.
So, for those looking to minimise their impact we need to rethink our botte behaviours.
What is biodynamic wine?
Inherently sustainable, biodynamic wine is from vineyards that operate to protect the land and cultivate it in a way that nurtures its state for future generations.
The holistic farming principles pioneered in the 1920’s by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, seek to use a single self-sustaining ecosystem, from wildlife biodiversity to the natural materials, soils and waste management practices.
Vines that flourish under these methods sometimes follow harvesting in line with the lunar calendar but are void of synthetics, chemicals, fertilisers and sulphates.
It’s also heard through the grapevine; the absence of the latter is conducive to appeasing the remanence of a hangover as fewer sulphates prompt the body to digest alcohol as food.
The spiritual, ethical and ecological approach to viticulture that characterises biodynamic wine cultivates grapes with a provenance that would make you proud to pour.
With over 2000 biodynamic wine producers operating across the world, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to low intervention wines to buy.
From sparkles to skin contact whites, here are ten biodynamic wines worth uncorking.
10 Best Biodynamic Wines
1. De Loach, Heritage Collection California Pinot Noir 2017, California
De Loach are infamous across the Sonoma region where their vineyard embraces biodiversity with the presence of livestock, beehives and permaculture gardens.
Even better, the estate is entirely run off of solar energy. Their philosophy states they are “stewards of the land, with a profound responsibility to pass along a clean environment and revitalized, healthy soil to future generations.”
Best paired with: Beetroot, duck or pork
Price: A case of 6 £96.95 (££)
2. Recioto Della Valpolicella Antolini 2017, Italy
Set in the hills of Valpolicella, Veneto, the vegan wines produced on the Antolini family’s 7.5 hectares of land are characterised by rich clay soils. This ground composition and natural moisture eliminates the use of irrigation, conserving water throughout their winemaking process.
Whilst dry farming is commonplace amongst natural wine producers, conventional and commercial mass market vineyards continue to unnecessarily water their vines.
Best paired with: Gorgonzola, chocolate gateau or truffles
Price: £28 (££)
Burgenland is home to Weninger, which has become one of Hungary’s most treasured vineyards since its establishment in 1992.
With soils comprised of clay, limestone, gneiss and mica minerals, Weninger winemakers have an unusual aging process where they combine cement with wooden fermenters to ensure the fermenting process leaves little mark on the alcohol. This particular summer rose is named after the owner’s grandmother and uses a combination of shiraz and pinot grapes.
Best paired with: Spring salads, light chicken dishes, herby pasta
Price: €9 (£)
A holy grail of biodynamic wines. Nicholas Joly leads responsible viticulture in France at the Clos de la Coulée de Serrant estate, positioned along the Loire river.
Steeped in history, the winery has stood since 1130 and was inherited by Joly in 1977. Here, he began his journey of sustainable farming and recognised the vast improvement in quality of product.
The vineyard focuses on distinctive dry wines, Joly is an advocate for rotten grapes due to their depth and minerality. He endorses the fact that “Before tasting good, a wine must be truly genuine” and for this reason, the Coulée de Serrant wines are unfiltered and unrefined.
Best paired with: Rich fish, mushrooms
Price: £93 (£££)
5. Tamburlaine Orange Riesling 2008 , Australia
With over 300 hectares of certified organic land, Tamburlaine is one of Australia’s largest biodynamic and natural wine producers.
Tamburlaine takes their sustainability and environmental management programme seriously to create award winning wines with solar panels, smart waste management systems and a compost process that uses all vineyard outputs.
Best paired with: Fragrant Asian dishes, Mexican cuisine, seafood
Price: £19.99 (££)
6. Bonterra Chardonnay 2019, California
Bonterra translates to ‘good land’. The three ranches that make up the estate in the Mendocino Country have been cultivating biodynamic grapes since 1987.
This geography in particular is renowned for responsible and ethical viticulture where over 25% of the Mendocino County grapes are organic, higher than the average of 3% grown throughout the rest of California. Working in harmony with the land’s biodiversity, the team at Bonterra use the presence of sheep as weed control to protect the vines.
Best paired with: Seafood, white meat, light dishes
Price: £12.49 (£)
7. Quinta Do Emizio, Vinho Verde ‘Chin Chin’ 2018, Portugal
Hailing from the North of Portugal, this wine originates from the 15-hectare estate run by the family of Antonio Monteiro de Matos. This particular wine was created in partnership with Noble Rot Restaurant & Wine Bar in London where they selected specific tanks to produce a fresh and vibrant white.
With an aesthetic to match its tasting profile, the bottle artwork was commissioned by local artist Jose Miguel Mendez.
Best paired with: Barbequed meats
Price: £12 (£)
In close proximity to the French Border, the 9.5-hectare Cosmic vineyard in Northern Catalunya produces biodynamic wines, all of a single variety. What’s unique about the wines produced by Cosmic is their use of two distinct terrains for local and international grapes.
Salvador Battle pays homage to the holistic principles of farming with his affinity to ‘energetic cleansing, sacred geometry and sound vibrations’ applied to the land. In his words, ‘’Cosmic winemaking is a philosophy of taking care of vines and making wine, based on what we feel.’
This orange wine needs no maturing and should be consumed sooner rather than later.
Best paired with: Paella, strong Spanish cheeses such as manchego
Price: £26 (££)
Vins Pextina is a relatively new kid on the biodynamic block, specialising in Mediterranean varieties produced by the sea.
Founded by Oleguer Brunet in 2014, an expert wine merchant, the focus here is on ‘raw but real wine’ with soul, complexity and a sustainable message. The warmer Meditarranean climate impacts vegetation and mean the organic fruit at Vins Pextina matures in a different way, needing slightly longer than elsewhere. This wine is produced in a manual and artisan fashion across several garages in a small village.
Best paired with: Grilled lamb, tapas, paella
Price: £11.75 (££)
10. Leclerc Briant Premier Cru Extra Brut, France
No one wine list is complete without some bubbles. House of Leclerc Briant are one of the most established biodynamic Champagne producers in the world.
Since the 1950s, the 14-hectare estate works to produce a mixture of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier grapes, all entirely organically sourced from the Champagne region. This particular Leclerc Briant preserve the grapes for at least 9 months, proving that all good things come to those that wait.
Best paired with: Oysters, smoked salmon, sashimi, creamy cheeses
Price: €47 (£££)
Amy Nguyen is the Founder & Editor of Sustainable & Social.
What do you think? Have you tried any of the wines on this list? Have you any additions we should try? Let us know in the comments below.