Earlier this week, I went up to Craon de Ludes to taste some 2008 vins clairs with Raphaël Bérèche. Bérèche is scrupulous about vinifying his various parcels separately in order to preserve their distinctive identities of terroir, and he also vinifies wines in both barrel and tank, making for a diverse collection of base wines. Furthermore, he is becoming increasingly focused on natural viticulture—no chemical herbicides or pesticides have been used since 2004, and since 2007 he has begun farming a portion of his vines biodynamically. An intriguing component of this is that for the past two years it has been possible to compare his vins clairs from biodynamic parcels with those from other parcels on similar terroirs (which are now essentially farmed organically).
2008 is a classic Champagne vintage in many ways, not the least of which is that after a decade of somewhat kinder, gentler vins clairs, we’re back to that tooth-clattering, enamel-stripping briskness that one expects from five month-old still wines harvested at 10.5 degrees close to the 50th parallel. Among the wines that we tasted was a chardonnay from a biodynamic parcel in Ludes—we tasted this wine from four different barrels, and while each of the four barrels had a slightly different personality, a consistent theme was that the acidity was even more notably pronounced in these wines than in the other chardonnays from Ludes that were not farmed biodynamically.
I’ve noticed this happening with many biodynamic wines around the world, irrespective of variety or region. Some winemakers say that their biodynamic parcels consistently produce wines of higher acidity, while others say that the acidity is analytically comparable between their biodynamic parcels and their other ones, but the perception of acidity in the biodynamic wines is somehow always more pronounced. Either way, the acidity almost always feels higher in a biodynamic wine. What do you think are the reasons for this?