James Halliday’s Wine Companion emailed newsletter of 17th February titled ‘James on the difficult art of biodynamic winemaking…’ discusses the practice and the fact that he considers Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines to be ‘right at the top of the Australian quality tree’. The article reads as follows;
“Organic certification is a necessary prerequisite to biodynamic certification, and for years there were far more vineyards either certified or strictly limited to organic principles than there were biodynamic. But around the wine world, more and more winemakers are moving to biodynamic. One of the most fervent apostles of the biodynamic movement is Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines, right at the top of the Australian quality tree.
“The link between cause (biodynamics) and effect (wine quality) was (and is) denied by many, and I have to admit I was not convinced. Or, to put it another way, some of Australia’s greatest wines are made from vineyards that are neither organic or biodynamic. But the banning of herbicides and insecticides, often used in conjunction with under-row mulch (to minimise soil moisture loss), undoubtedly increases microbial activity and more visible signs such as worm population. It is difficult to argue with the proposition that this allows vines to more freely explore the soil, and visual inspection of such vineyards tells you they are healthy, and likely more healthy than nearby vineyards using the full gamut of sprays of all kinds.
“The banning of foliar sprays to protect against botrytis, downy mildew and powdery mildew is another matter. In dry climates with low humidity and rainfall during the growing season, the proscription of sprays other than copper and sulphur is unlikely to cause any management problems. Moreover, those who are totally committed to biodynamics argue that the greater health of organically grown vines means they are better able to naturally withstand the mildews and botrytis.
“I think I would rather have my cake and eat it: practise/follow biodynamic principles (built on a foundation of organic), but be prepared to jump ship if disease breaks out that can only be controlled systemic sprays.
“All of the five wines that follow have been grown and made by totally committed practioners of this difficult art, and the quality of the wines is self evident.”