Biodynamic Cristal Method

Biodynamics is one of the most contentious current issues in wine. Not because of its value to the environment: few would argue that any viticultural method that takes better care of the land is a waste of time and money, but because of grape and wine quality.

Many proponents believe it produces better grapes but the proof is mostly anecdotal. Louis Roederer chief winemaker Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon is a believer.

“Biodynamics gives grapes with more amino acids, and the amino acids make the aromas,” he said during a recent visit to Sydney. “Biodynamics also helps the terroir to speak more clearly. But it doesn’t work the same on chardonnay as it does on pinot noir.”

Because of a belief in the value of biodynamics, Roederer is converting all of its vineyards to biodynamic viticulture.

The Cristal Estate, for instance, which is a collection of the company’s best vineyards whose grapes are the source of its flagship wine, Cristal, is nearly 60% converted to biodynamics, Lecaillon says. This currently equates to 65 hectares of biodynamic vineyards, the biggest in Champagne, of which 10% are Demeter certified.

Lecaillon presented a tasting of six vintages of Cristal (tastings), including the latest release, the 2006, which although still young, is already shaping as one of the best. The most spectacular wine on the day, though, was the 1993, a sublime wine drinking at the peak of its potential, which I scored 98. This was somewhat unexpected as ’93 is not widely recognized as one of the great years in Champagne. But then, Cristal is not your typical Champagne. The others, 2005 (tasting), 2002, 1999, 1995, all scored at least 95. 

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