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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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Top French Wine Goes Bio

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Yes, I know – “Top French Wine Goes Bio” is not a new headline. Biodynamic Viticulture , at least in the context of a “Top Wine” has been on the scene at least since 1984 when Nicolas Joly converted his Coulee de Serrant holding to biodynamic principles.

What IS news is that  Chateau Guiraud, a producer of Sauternes Grand Cru’s has just been awarded Bio-Dynamic certification . The first of the Bordeaux regions Sauternes to be so awarded.

But the allocades didn’t come overnight. (suprise, suprise!) The long road that led to recognition of Chateau Guiraund’s biodynamic excellence began more than 15 years ago when vigneron Xavier Planty(now is that a great last name for a winegrower or what?) disgusted with chemically based viticulture decided to experiment with organic growing.

One of the major catalysts for this decision was the death of a close friend two years earlier. A vignernon who had spent his entire life working in the fields with chemicals. He died of cancer.

bicyclegourmet.comWith the advice of an agricultral engineer, and more setbacks than victories, Xavier Planty perserved. And with the consistent philosophy of treating the soil with respect – not chemicals the transformation continued.

“Biodynamics” – a concept of life force energy and balances, originated from Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner. It was his writings, in particular that inspired Nicolas Joly to “go Bio.”

However, since then, although Biodynamics involves precise actions with specific organic materials at equally specific times – such as planting by Moon phases and the application of diluted animal manures – every chemical free French farmer (wine or otherwise) proudly describe their produce as “Bio.”

Bottom Line: Not clear on the concept!

Although it’s the first Bordeaux Grand Cru to be biodynamically certified, Chateau Guiraund was beaten to the Winey punch by a Saint Emilion Grand CruChateau Fonroque – that received the biodynamic baptisim in 2006.

In addition to the enhanced quality of his Wine, the complete elimination of pesticides (since 2004) and the relative ease of disease control (mildew be gone!) – Xavier Planty delights in the resurgence of insect life resulting from the rejuvinated soil.

For example, most conventional (chemically based) vineyards have fewer than 200 varities of insects. The latest Chateau Guiraund insect census revealed no less than 635 different varities.

To continue this biodiversity – allowing more insects to florish and feed on vineyard pests – Planty has established 3.7 miles (6KM) of hedges on his property.

While Planty’s certification will most certainly inspire other vignerons to “go bio”, the Aquatine region has some catching up to do in the Bio Wine sweepstakes. it’s currently number 3. Behind the leaders, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alps-Cote-D’azur.


What are ya thinkin’?

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12 Responses to “Top French Wine Goes Bio”

  1. fred tiockner says:

    I’m thinkin’ – great to have you back on the wine trail!

  2. carson green says:

    good to know that orgainc agriculture (by any form) is spreading in France. if only we could make the same progress here!

  3. jack demenst says:

    Always great to get your up-dates on the French Wine scene.

  4. blair townsend says:

    great stuff! let’s have more of these “BG WINOS!”

  5. howard tememore says:

    Thanks to you and this post, I’ve started to make a list of these wineries for my next visit!

  6. sally cook says:

    What’s really impressive to me about this guy is that he’s taking care of the whole eco-system…..not just his vines;

  7. barnaby firestone says:

    While this is obviously good news…and will undoubtedly inspire other grand cru estate who are on the fence to take the plunge – it would be interesting to get the rationale for the opposition to the organics from the vinteners still on the chemical program.

  8. felix dunster says:

    your report makes it clear that “bio” is not just a passing fad. much needed. and well done.

  9. halverson tremaine says:

    whats most amazing to me is the increase in the number of insects resulting from planty following the biodynamic process.

  10. sam youbst says:

    never head of this steiner guy before this post – now – thanks to you, i’ve checked him out.

  11. terry richman says:

    the confusion between “Organic” and “Bio” is understandable, given the various economic interests promoting their version of “green.”

  12. barry goldstein says:

    Terry -Too true! – but the result for the public is yet another “dumbing down”/half-truths/outright lies/questionable facts” situation that does nothing to add to marketing credibility. (if there ever was such an animal. Which I SERIOUSLY doubt!)

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