Wine suggestions this week include some lovely blends

I have bad news.

Wine suggestions this week include some lovely blends

According to the biodynamic calendar, today is a root day so is sadly not a good day for drinking wine.

Sunday, however, is a flower day which is much better. Of course I don’t really believe that but you would be surprised how many of the world’s top winemakers believe this wholeheartedly.

Biodynamic agricultural practices are based on the teachings of the mystic and philosopher Rudolf Steiner. Farmers pay close attention to the moon cycle and planetary movements and view their farms as living organisms with everything working in harmony from the insects to the grass to the bacteria.

No chemicals are used and there are many strange practices in biodynamics such as burying animal horns filled with cow dung in the vineyard at certain times of the year, and spraying plants with solutions prepared like homeopathic medicine so that there is barely a trace element of the active ingredients.

One biodynamic farmer explained to me that while organic farming pays huge attention to the soil, in biodynamics the soil is just one tiny element of the whole.

The strangest thing of all, however, is that biodynamic viticulture appears to work. Good winemakers produce better grapes, vines seem to have more vigour and the wines appear to taste purer and fresher.

At the Ballymaloe Litfest a couple of weeks ago, one of my wine highlights was the Cullen Estate Diana Madeline 2009 which is grown using these principals. It was presented by Jancis Robinson as the finalé to her tasting, ‘Lighter and Fresher’, and had a beautiful purity and clarity — as do all the Cullen wines (of which more in a few weeks).

Regions you’re most likely to find biodynamic practised tend to be small regions with diverse terroir such as Burgundy (almost all the best known producers), the Loire (Nicolas Joly) and Steiner’s birthplace, Austria.

All the wines recommended below are either biodynamic or made from organically grown grapes and all are very good value given the huge amount of work that goes into their creation. My advice is to ignore the (pseudo)science and just drink the wines.

Best value under €15

Plaimont Co-op Nature Secrète, Saint Mont, France €12.95  

Stockist: Cases Wine Warehouse Galway www.cases.ie

A blend of Tannat, Pinenc, and Cabernet Sauvignon from one of France’s most innovative co-operatives based in Gascony, south of Bordeaux. Ripe blackcurrants mixed with damsons came to mind on first taste and despite the tannin heavy grapes, somehow this had a lightness of touch. Another for the barbecue.

Domino de Punctum 2011, Castilla, Spain - €13.95

Stockist: Cases Wine Warehouse Galway www.cases.ie

This packs a lot of complexity for such an affordable wine and has to be one of the least expensive bio-dynamic wines in the country. Aromas of vanilla and spice with touches of violets, layered dark fruit flavours on the palate, and a complex lingering finish.

Las Renas Monastrell, Bullas, Spain - €12.45

Stockist: Karwigs Carrigaline, www.karwigwines.ie

Bullas is a little known region in Murcia in south east Spain where the main grape is Monastrell, or Mourvèdre as it is better known in the Rhone and Provence. This is a ripe, solid wine with lots of juicy fruit flavours — particularly ripe plums and blackcurrants — good value and perfect for barbecue food.

Best value over €15

Biurko Crianza 2010, Rioja, Spain - €15.95      

Stockist: Cases Wine Warehouse Galway www.cases.ie

A blend of 80% Tempranillo and 20% Graciano, the latter showing on the palate I think given the concentrated flavours in this Rioja. Despite the tasty ripe fruit flavours, this is a quite densely structured wine that needs some steak or slow-roasted lamb to show at its best.

Sepp Moser Gruner Veltliner, Austria - €16.50

Stockists: www.WineOnline.ie

Austria has proportionally the largest amount of organic viticulture of any wine-growing country and Sepp Moser is one of its pioneers. This is fragrant with touches of white pepper and citrus mixed with white flowers and a fine pure clean palate and crisp finish. This is mainly sold to restaurants but it can be bought from Wine Online.

Mustiguillo Mestizaje 2013, Valencia, Spain - €19.95

Stockists: Deveneys Dundrum, Baggot Street Wines

A blend of 80% Bobal with a little Tempranillo and Merlot. Bobal is the signature grape of this winery and is a grape you will be hearing more of as it produces light fragrant wines with a beguiling freshness.

Aromas of red fruit and blackberries with a touch of raspberries on the lingering finish.

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