& Interesting Links........
|The Bio-Mat -- an amazing health
tool, promoting balanced biorhythms, energy flow and
well-being. Meticulously crafted of semi-precious
stones (amythyst, turqoirse) and natural fibers. For
more information or demonstration, go to:
or email me at: email@example.com
|Beatriz Vidal is a painter and
children's book illustrator from Argentina, who lives part
of each year in New York. Beatriz and I worked on a
couple of stories together, including Federico and the
Gift of the Magi. Her sense of color and design is
bold and magical.
For a look at her ravishing
images, go to:
More useful links:
If you like cheese: sign up for cheese expert Janet
Fletcher's newsletter, Planet Cheese: http://www.janetfletcher.com/newslettersignup
Miller's blog is one of the liveliest in the Triangle!
website cataloging culinary schools around the U.S.
newsletter: If a cool new spot opens anywhere in the U.S.,
John has likely dined there--
out his lively newsletter so you'll know where to go!
Louis Marmon's wine blog
-- for news about regional American and California wines,
see this comprehensive site
also Articles & Wine Reviews by
Hart Davis Hart Wine Co., a wine auction house based in
Chicago, also operates a retail website. "I like to
say we sell drinkable wines," says President Paul Hart. "A
majority of them have some bottle age and are ready to
drink, after being stored under ideal conditions."
you're looking for a particular wine or vintage--check out
Collectors and Value Seekers: Current and upcoming
auctions at HDH are offering some excellent buys--worth
checking out for gift-giving. Click on the link above.
-- Pat Wells cooking classes in Paris and Provence
Sally's Place -- wine and food,
including B.E.'s articles
Forces Of Universe Improve Wines:
Biodynamics Catching On
By Barbara Ensrud
February is the “heartfelt” month. Wine
is healthy for the heart, as we know, in moderation. Healthy
vines produce even healthier wines — more honest, more balanced,
free of additives — and they taste good!
The wave of vineyards worldwide
going organic is major, verging on tsunamic. Once we were leery
of wines from organic grapes — and, admittedly, early ones
seemed a little off-kilter. As top profile winemakers turned to
organically grown grapes, however, quality and flavor began to
shine. Taste Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir, Bonterra Viognier, Frey
Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blancs from Frog’s Leap or
Patianna, Coppola’s Rubicon and dozens of others — many
exceptional, as their critical ratings and awards confirm.
But there is an even more intriguing, somewhat mysterious,
definitely controversial move in wine-growing and wine-making
that is beyond organic: biodynamics.
The difference: organic vineyards are farmed without using
pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.
Biodynamics takes organic principles further than simply do no
harm. Through labor-intensive practices, biodynamic growers
actually replenish the soil with natural organic preparations
that — here’s the somewhat mystical and controversial part —
attract cosmic influences that unleash the life forces in the
earth and the plants. “So the earth may be healed,” wrote Rudolf
Steiner (1861-1925), the Austrian philosopher, scientist and
visionary who laid down biodynamic principles for farming in the
early 20th century, paving the way for the eco-movement in this
Some of the techniques do seem a little bizarre:
• stuffing a cowhorn with cow manure or ground quartz and
burying it at the equinox for six months
• fermenting yarrow flowers in a deer’s bladder
• adding the juices of chamomile flowers or dandelion to compost
• spraying horsetail tea on vine foliage to prevent fungus
These and other biodynamic “preps” are mixed with spring water,
stirred vigorously for one hour to intensify their potency, then
sprayed on the soil, enhancing root systems and soil fertility —
in effect boosting the immune system of the vine to better
withstand onslaught from pests, weeds and disease. Sheep are
kept to mow cover crops in spring, their little feet also
aerating the soil. Nesting boxes for bluebirds and purple
swallowtails help control insects.
Astonishingly, it appears to work — growers find not only
stronger vines, but also positive effects on wine aromas and
flavors. “Biodynamics deals with how we might seek to harmonize
our farming practices with the subtle forces of the universe,”
said innovative winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon,
“following the astronomical calendar, availing ourselves of free
cosmic fertilizer, you might say.”
It all might seem a bit “woo-woo” except for the fact that some
of the most prestigious wine estates in the world have embraced
biodynamic practices — Domaines Leroy, Leflaive, Dujac, Comte
Lafon in Burgundy, Zind-Humbrecht, the top name in Alsace, M.
Chapoutier in the Rhône and numerous others. Biodynamic farming
in Europe — both in foodstuffs and wine — is huge and growing.
And it is gaining adherents in this country too.
I recently visited one of California’s newest
biodynamic estates, Truett-Hurst, in Dry Creek Valley near
Healdsburg in Sonoma County. In Dry Creek’s rushing waters and
rocky bed, trout flourish and salmon come 50 miles inland from
the Pacific to spawn. You can see them from the bank.
“We draw water from the creek and sit here stirring our preps in
half barrels,” said Ginny Lambrix, winemaker and partner at
Truett-Hurst. “The hour goes by quickly.”
Planting, cultivating and harvesting according to lunar cycles
and astrological influences also plays a significant role in
biodynamic farming. The 14 acres of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah
were scheduled for planting when Lambrix came aboard in July
2008. “I was so eager to get the vineyard going,” she said, as
we stood among the young vines. It was already late to start
planting, but the lunar phase was wrong.
“I was really nervous having to wait, but the very week they
would have started to germinate, we had a terrific heat spike —
it would have fried those little plants! A week later, things
cooled down with perfect conditions for planting.”
Hmmmm … it’s as if the universe, in its movement about the
galaxy, “knows” far more than we can imagine; there are forces
at work whether or not scientists can see or prove their
existence. Why not? We can’t “see” magnetic or electric forces,
but we can see the effects of them. And as growers see the
results of working with their plot of earth, treating it as the
living organism it is, using preparations to nourish and
revitalize it, they’re convinced. And on a much tinier scale, I
am as well.
Paul Dolan, one of the pioneering biodynamic proponents at Dark
Horse Vineyards in California kindly sent me a manure-stuffed
cowhorn last spring. Buried the previous fall, it had turned
into rich, black, particle-fine soil. I roped two friends into
helping me stir it in five gallons of spring water, 20 minutes
each, creating the deep vortex of swirling water that synergizes
all the elements. It worked amazingly fast on my compost pile,
and I noticed that where I sprayed it on my flower and herb
beds, the seeds germinated well and the plants had stronger
stems. It seems to help amend my sticky red clay areas quite
I won’t garden without these aids now. If it interests you,
Google the Josephine Porter Institute in Virginia. They stock
horned manure and other biodynamic mixtures you can buy.
Meantime, search out one of the recommended wines [below] to
share with your heart’s delight on Valentine’s Day. It may work
some magic for both of you!
Wine Buys of the Month
All of these wines are organically or biodynamically grown.
If you don’t find them in stock locally, stores can order them.
All are available online.
Bonterra Syrah, Mendocino,
also: Bonterra dry Rosé, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Ca’ del Solo Albariño, California
Casa Lapostolle Merlot, Chile
Château Bousquette St. Chinian (dry rosé)
Domaine des Cèdres Côte-du-Rhône
Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Meysonniers--many,
if not all, Chapoutier wines are biodynamic
King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon Pinot
Domaine Leflaive Macon-Verzé
Leflaive is 100% biodynamic
Paul Dolan Zinfandel,
Mendocino also: Sauvignon Blanc,
Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir, Carneros
Sauvignon Blancs : Frog’s Leap,
Patianna, Paul Dolan, Arboleda, Chile
Truett-Hurst Zinfandel Three
Vineyards a new estate in Sonoma; 100%
Kreydenweiss Perrières France
Pierre Morey Meursault France
Jolivet Pouilly-Fumé Loire
Torino CUMA Malbec Argentina
Rapitala Nero d'Avola Sicily
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