Thursday, June 30, 2005

30 June 2005 - Organic/Biodynamic...blah, blah...wait a minute...

I'm usually not interested winegrowing/making technique. If the wine tastes good, if it makes me happy, that's what counts, and I've been around long enough, tasted enough wine, to know that great wine can be made in lots of different ways. The organic/biodynamic thing though, this interests me. The best, or at least most distinctive organic/biodynamic wines I've tasted remind me of tasting finished wine from the barrel. Ask a winemaker "what is the worst thing you can do to wine," and most will say, "putting it in a bottle." It is almost as if wine is too expansive to be contained in such a small package. The Frick wines remind me of this sensation -- even the "lowly" Sylvaner seems to blossom once it can breathe a little air again, once it gets released from the bottle. It just seems as if the wine is truly alive when it's a result of biodynamic practice.

One big caveat. Organic/biodynamic viticulture is difficult, time-consuming, labor-intensive work. I've had plenty of funky, volatile, downright disastrous wines made in this method. Another Alsace producer, Marc Tempe, is a good example -- one wine is delicious, the next three bizarre-to-terrible. As a matter of fact, organic/biodynamic viticulture is enjoying a pretty strong revival in Alsace. Another producer, Marcel Deiss, makes such clean, impeccable wines you'd never suspect they were biodynamic -- and there it is. Technique running head-on into expression.

Back to Frick for a second. They've been organic since 1970, biodynamic since 1981. You look at Pierre Frick and see a studious, quiet, gentle man who just wants to make wine that speaks of the place from which it comes. Like any other method, biodynamic viticulture can result in great wine. -- and terrible wine. Depends on the people making the critical decisions like "does this taste good?" -- and whether or not we agree with them. And now you know why I avoid writing/talking about technique.