What is natural, organic and biodynamic wine?

At Lieu-dit, our opinion about natural, organic, biodynamic or even more classic wines is expressed by each of the approximately 200 winemakers that we work with. It goes without saying that they cannot all have the same approach to producing wine, and it is precisely this diversity that we strive to embrace. Basically, we work with the winemakers that we do because they make exceptionally good wines, and because they are sympathetic people with clear ideals that they pursue to the best of their ability.

The indefinable natural wine

Natural wine is often regarded as a clash with – or even a revolt against – conventional or industrial wines, but just like any other grassroots movement, there is no top-level control or standardization. Natural wine is often a subject of very strong opinions and criticism for not having a clear definition. Most people can agree that it is about making living wines with as little manipulation, intervention or additions as possible. But natural wine does not come with a stamp of approval, or any official definition enforced by a supervisory body.

Det er i virkeligheden en skam, at vi bruger så meget tid på at diskutere for og imod naturvin, og hvad naturvin helt præcist dækker over. For mere end at diskutere om en vin er naturlig eller ej, er det vel interessant at vide, hvordan It’s a pity that we spend so much time discussing for and against natural wine and debating definitions. Rather than discussing <i>whether</i> a wine is natural or not, the question should really be <i>how</i> it is made. Behind each bottle of wine is a winemaker who – based on his or her ideals and ambitions – tries to find his or her own conscientious way of producing the best possible wine. To some of our winemakers the absence of added sulfites in the wine is the decisive factor, while others accept a minimal addition of sulfites when bottling. To some winemakers all forms of temperature control are prohibited, while others see it is a crucial tool to ensure control when working completely without additives. We know farmers who have lost their entire harvest in difficult vintages because they categorically refuse to spray the vineyards even with permitted substances under the rules of organic farming.

Does that mean that all our producers make natural wine? A large proportion of them do, but exactly how many depend on the perspective you take. At Lieu-dit, we have always believed that transparency is more important than categorical beliefs. Should it disqualify winegrowers if they add a minimal dose of sulfites when bottling? Absolutely not, but we appreciate that they tell us about it so we can pass that information on to our customers.

Organic wine – certified or not

All winemakers in our portfolio have their own opinions on what constitutes conscientious work in the vineyard and in the cellar. The legislation on organic wine, on the other hand, is unambiguous. According to current European legislation, the category “wine made from organic grapes” no longer exists. This was phased out in 2012 and replaced with the category “organic wine”, which not only takes the work in the vineyard into consideration, but also sets rules for what is allowed in the cellar before you can call it organic wine.

All certified organic wines on this website are marked with the green EU organic logo. But this does not mean that the rest of the wines in our portfolio are necessarily conventional. It simply means that there are restrictions on how we can present the wines as the legislation concerning organic wine is quite restrictive.

Most of our winegrowers choose to have their vineyards organically certified, but few choose to have their wines certified organic. Their reasons for this vary, but common to many of them is that they spend most of their time in the vineyard and feel a certain amount of scepticism towards the bureaucracy that surrounds the current rules for organic winemaking. Furthermore, many of them feel that their own standards are far higher than what is required to become certified organic, and we would have to agree with them.

Nevertheless, we appreciate whenever one of our winemakers choose to go for the organic certification, and we are in constant dialogue with those of our producers who already meet all requirements to take the last step and get the green EU organic logo on their labels. This is, however, a gradual process that must take place at their own pace and on their own initiative. We know all our winemakers intimately including how they work in the vineyards and in the cellar. If they work organically, we would like to be able to tell our customers about it, which is exactly what is made possible by the organic certification.

Biodynamic wine – the forces from the cosmos

The philosophical thinking behind biodynamics – and hence also biodynamic wine – stems from a series of lectures given in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner. These ideas have formed the basis of more than 50 years of practical biodynamic experiments conducted by Maria Thun and have subsequently been converted into a coherent set of practical biodynamic instructions, which are also used today in making biodynamic wine.

In short, a biodynamic farmer complies with all regulations from organic production, but also follows several other rules and practices in the vineyard that stem from Steiner’s fundamental view of Earth as a living, animated organism nourished by forces from the cosmos.

Biodynamics is still not accepted as a science, and it may seem far from many people’s worldview when a biodynamic winemaker places a quartz crystal on top of a cask of wine to help the wine develop with the help of cosmic energy, or when he mixes cow manure from a buried cow’s horn with water while stirring it both clockwise and counterclockwise to dynamize the mixture. At the same time, however, many of the considerations of biodynamics – and not least the practical results – are difficult to ignore. We do not find ourselves in a position to write off the beneficial effects of biodynamic production simply because they cannot be fully verified within current scientific methods.

Biodynamic wine is, and always will be, a debated topic, but it is a practice that is here to stay among the best producers in the field of viticulture. In addition, we have never met a winegrower whose understanding and sensitivity in the vineyard has diminished as a result of converting to biodynamics. Similarly, we have never met a winemaker who has started making wine of a lower quality as a result of becoming a biodynamic farmer. Quite the contrary!

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