Some Thoughts On Wines Made With Biodynamic And Organically Grown Grapes
By Kris Margerum
In my position as Wine director at Auberge du Soleil, I have the opportunity to taste a great number of wines, on average around 200 wines per week. While my palette is just average for a wine professional, I am blessed with one important gift – a very long palette memory. I can remember the flavors of many wines from 20 years ago. My palette memory has led me to note positive results in wines that were farmed chemically, but switched to organic and biodynamic methods. A short and incomplete list of wines farmed using organic and biodynamic methods include Grgich Hills, Quintessa, Benziger as well as Eisele Vineyard, which was bottled by Joseph Phelps and is now the home for Araujo.
When I took over the wine program at Auberge du Soleil, the list contained approximately 300 California wine selections. Over time, I built the list to over 1500 domestic and international selections. A few years ago, someone suggested I notate wines that were grown with organic and biodynamic grapes. After starting this project, I soon realized my wine list already incorporated a large number of wines in these categories. I never planned to buy organic wines, I just taste a lot of wines and buy what I think tastes best. It was only later I realized that many of these wine choices are organic or biodynamic. When it comes to organic/biodynamic wines I traveled from unaware to skeptic to believer, and now advocate and it is the results poured from the bottle that took me on the journey.
I still recognize that wines made from non-organic grapes can achieve greatness. My list is full of world class yet conventionally farmed wines. Just because a winery is organic does not mean it will produce a great wine, as there are too many other variables at work. However, I do know that an increasing number of the top wine producers, both locally and internationally are switching to organics as they seek to achieve the best expression possible for their wines. Possibly, they have tasted the same results I noticed and are now willing to take the plunge into organics.