Urlar is a Gaelic word meaning “The Earth”, a fitting brand for fifth-generation Scottish farmer Angus Thomson and his wife Davina.
The topic of wine is never very far from my conversations, as people from all walks of life love to talk about it.
Organic grape growers and winemakers are upset at the abuse of the words “organic” and “biodynamic” in relation to wine. They are concerned that wine producers are using these descriptions as a tool to sell wine in a market that is increasingly congested and favouring sustainably produced wines over the more conventional.
A French winemaker is being prosecuted by the French authorities for not spraying his vineyard with insecticide. Emmanuel Giboulot is a Burgundy winemaker who began using organic practices in his vineyard back in 1985, and has since graduated to biodynamic management. He would lose his certification if he sprayed what he’s being asked to spray. But he could go to jail or face a heavy fine if convicted.
David Paxton bought 1000 cow horns this year for his biodynamic preparations, and has buried 600 of them in the ground, all stuffed with cow poo from his own Scottish Highland cattle. Such is the mundane detail of being McLaren Vale’s – and one of
Quartz Reef is hard, austere country. The land is poor, gold-bearing and rocky, with scrubby vegetation: one-rabbit-to-the-acre country. You don’t expect it to make light, soft, easy-quaffing pinot noir. And it doesn’t. If ever the adage ‘struggling vines make the best wine’ is true, it’s
Considering the dreadfully wet conditions leading up to the 2011 vintage in most of eastern Australia, it’s a pleasant surprise whenever a really good wine comes along.
Organic and biodynamic viticulture are growing movements throughout the world. It might be tempting to dismiss them as trendy, and ask “Why has it suddenly become so important to grow vines this way?” For the first 25 years that I was interested in wine, it was barely mentioned. What’s changed?
Damn: it looks like I’ll have to get rid of my entire wine cellar and start again. Nicolas Joly, the father of biodynamic viticulture, says if your wine is stored in an environment with electric current of 50 Hertz or more, it will be dead. “The vibration will kill your wine.” That’s it, end of story. You can’t argue with a man who wears certainty like other people wear a shirt.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock out west of Oodnadatta, you would have picked up on the fact that natural and ethical winemaking are the buzz wine trends of the moment. Grow your grapes organically, biodynamically or at least with minimal inputs, and in an environmentally responsible manner. Then add little or nothing to the juice during winemaking (maybe some sulfur to protect it from gross oxidation), and take nothing away (no fining or filtration).