A flower display between rows of vines at the Forradori winery, which is committed to biodynamic cultivationA flower display between rows of vines at the Forradori winery, which is committed to biodynamic cultivation

Demeter wine: the power of nature

Everyone’s talking about organic wine. But what exactly makes a wine organic? 

Synthetic pesticides are an absolute no-go; instead, organic wine producers opt for intact ecosystems with natural beneficial organisms. Organic methods are the only options for fertilising the vineyard, by sowing grain and legumes between rows of vines for example. In addition, this increased vegetation helps to prevent soil erosion. There are also many regulations that must be observed in the cellar; for example, sulphur can only be used to a limited extent. And when clarifying the grape juice, the winemaker only uses natural substances such as egg white or clay. 

Biodynamic wine goes one step further. Not only are chemical pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers not allowed, the work in the vineyard and the cellar must also follow the anthroposophical theory put forward by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). Winemaker Alois Lageder from South Tyrol is a pioneer in this area, and has been cultivating his 50 hectares of vines biodynamically for over 40 years. «By taking account of the cycles and rhythms of nature, i.e. cosmic influences like those of the sun, the moon and the stars, we can make use of their forces,» says the visionary. His goal: To make the grapevines so resistant that they have sufficient defensive and self-healing capacities to overcome a fungal attack or pest infestation. «We use biodynamic compounds and homeopathic teas to help. We establish biodiversity by sowing wild greenery between the vines, growing shrubs and other plants, allowing animals to be present and fertilising with manure. All these measures promote the formation of humus and lead to better soil quality and vine fertility.»

Elisabetta Foradori has been implementing biodynamic practices since 2002 and has gone on to write an important piece of Trentino viticultural history. Among other methods, she ferments her Demeter-certified wine, primarily made from local Teroldego grapes, in 400-litre clay amphorae – which requires a lot of gut instinct. This successful winemaker is confident that «clay aligns perfectly with Rudolf Steiner’s biodynamic philosophy». By the way: you can find over 35 organic or Demeter-certified wines in our range. 

A few more words about vegan wine. Do you remember how granny used to clarify her beef stock? She would pop in an egg white, stir it into the broth and skim off the foam. The egg white binds to the sediment and clarifies the broth. It’s exactly the same with wine. After fermentation, the oenologist removes particles that make the wine cloudy with an egg white. This process is called fining, and it can also be carried out with gelatin or milk protein. But, obviously, this isn’t vegan-friendly. Because of this, more and more winemakers are opting for alternatives such as potato starch, peas, bean protein or bentonite. Many winegrowing regions have a tradition of sweet treats containing egg yolk: Portuguese pastéis de nata, canelés from Bordeaux … Now you know why!

Our wine recommendations

  1. - +
    Italy, South Tyrol
    100 % Pinot grigio / Pinot gris / Grauburgunder

    75 cl
    Pinot grigio – Alto Adige doc, Alois Lageder
  2. - +
    Italy, South Tyrol
    Viognier, Petit Manseng

    75 cl
    Casòn bianco – Vigneti delle Dolomiti bianco igt, Alois Lageder

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