Paula Goddard’s Wines of the Week starting 18th February 2019
Wine makers who practise the extreme form of organic grape growing, known as biodynamics, believe that only by putting back into the soil everything nature produces, and I mean everything, can vines can grow and wine be made in harmony with the earth’s rhythms.
Followers of this theory spray infusions made with dandelion, valerian and chamomile flowers; water and cow dung on their vines. These ‘teas’ are a crude supplier of essential plant nutrients and are supplemented with the composting remains of cow horn and stag’s bladder stuffed with manure. Their great advantage to any grower is that they’re free. All the vineyard owner needs do is walk to an untended corner and pull up a few weeds and tidy up anything dropped from the cattle wandering about their vineyard.
This is my kind of gardening. Why spend hard earned cash on petrol driving to the local agri-merchant and on fertilisers supplied in uncompostable plastic containers? Biodynamicists do have to spend some money on getting in crushed quartz stone to make preparation ‘501’ – quartz dynamised with water (that’s stirred vigorously to you and me). Sprayed on grapes it helps to concentrate their flavour.
Quartz rock contains silica. Silica absorbs water – just think of those small silica-gel sachets found in new shoes that help remove moisture – and it’s very useful in taking excess moisture from over-rained on grapes that have become swollen and diluted.
Biodynamic grape-growing practice contains some sound gardening chemistry and common sense. If it didn’t surround itself with mumbo-jumbo words like ‘dynamising’ and ‘life forces’ it might have a lot more followers.
PG Wine Reviews
RAW (Really Awesome Wine), Organic and Vegan Spanish white blend
£7 Co-op (down from £8 until February 19)
This blend of the well-known grape variety Sauvignon Blanc, and a couple of lesser-known grape varieties, results in really fruity flavoured wine with a creamy edge. Expect peach, lemon, apple and a but of pineapple.
Marques de Valido Spanish Rioja Reserva 2014
£7 Co-op (down from £9 until February 19)
An everyday quaffable red that matches most foods. There are better Riojas out there though.
SPAR Jean-Marie French Selection du Sommelier Chardonnay 2017
Nice and fruity with flavours of melon and pear.
SPAR French Languedoc Blanc 2017
This blend of Grenache Blanc and Marsanne results in flavours of buttered toast and apricot jam.
Cru des Cotes du Rhone 2016
An interesting red with flavours of smoky violets and black cherry.