Much of the theory of biodynamic farming makes perfect sense. Get rid of chemicals, be they in fertilizers or pesticides and create a balance of natur
e in which each species will co-exist and co-protect.
A select group of winemakers have been doing this now for decades, creating biodiversity in their vineyards with insects, flowers and other plans encouraged to share space and soil with the vines which produce ‘organic grapes’.
The results have been encouraging and most of the wines produced in this manner are excellent. They may not be the greatest in the wine world, but that is principally because grapes for the more traditionally ‘fine wines’ are not produced biodynamically- yet.
Austrian producer Sepp Moser has been a strong advocate of biodynamic farming which it practices in the challenging terroir of steeply terraced vineyards in Kremstal and also in the flatlands of Apetlon in Burgenland.
No stranger to innovation (Lenz Moser, founder of the dynasty invented a high training system for vines in the 1950s), Sepp Moser, the third generation son, established a new wine producing enterprise in 1987 and this is now run by his son Nikolaus, who was in Dublin for the ‘Febvreuary’ wine event.
Both father and son are strongly influenced by the writings of Rudolf Steiner who claimed that we live in ‘an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world accessible to direct experience through inner development’. He wanted to bring scientific systems of proof to spiritual matters and his ideas are reflected across a wide range of disciplines including education (the Steiner method), medicine, ethical banking- and biodynamic farming.
The Moser family embraced biodynamics with enthusiasm. They are accredited to Demeter, an international organic farming brand which sets high standards for its members. Nikolaus says that no water-soluble fertilizers or synthetic chemical pesticides are used in his vineyards, but he does use small quantities of copper, ‘because we have not yet found a suitable alternative’. Instead herbs, quartz and dung-based preparations are used to assist a ‘single organism’ which is the farm. Yarrow, Camomile, Nettle, Oak Bark, Dandelion and Valerian are all used and silica is buried inside cow horns.
While all of this represents excellence in organic farming, biodynamics goes a step further by taking into reckoning the phases of the moon and even the constellations when working in the vineyards. Nikolaus dismisses any idea that this practice might be fanciful. ‘Everybody knows that the moon influences tides and water- so why not plants and soils?’ he asks. ‘Every farmer will tell you that there are good days and bad days for planting certain crops’. He says that extensive observation bears out the theory although scientific proof is not yet to hand.
Biodynamic farming may be for those with a certain philosophical outlook, but there is no argument about the quality of Sepp Moser wines. The Gruner Veltliners from both terraces and plains were aglow with spicy aromas, fruitiness and lingering minerality while the Rieslings were vivid and fresh.
They are distributed here by Febvre and Co.