Organic farming

Monocultures lead to the biggest problems in terms of disease, parasites and weed burden. I’m not sure what the answer to this is in viticulture, a grower is unlikely to plant 3/4 of their plot of Montrachet with other things. I dare say that the financial pressure on someone farming a more everyday vineyard is even greater.
 
Interesting Rauzan Segla lost 25% of the crop in 2021 to mildew
I was told during our visit a few years ago that Margaux can be particularly prone to mildew...a micro-producer we visited (Jaugeyron) told us he lost his entire crop of Margaux to mildew a couple of years before. That's got to hurt...he is biodynamic but AFAIAA he doesn't use bouillie bordelaise either..
 
Nettles, milk, mandrake root and other potions found in the works of JK Rowling don't work. That's why organic and biodynamic growers rely on copper to protect their vines from mildew. If those things worked, they would be commercialised by the agro-chemical companies.
Don’t work as in they have zero impact?

A great many would disagree and have reduced use of copper and synthetic fungicides as a result of spraying with things that ‘don’t work’.

Use of nettles etc is far from limited to organic/biodynamic certified producers. Maybe they are all wasting their time. You should let them know. ;)

Monocultures lead to the biggest problems in terms of disease, parasites and weed burden. I’m not sure what the answer to this is in viticulture, a grower is unlikely to plant 3/4 of their plot of Montrachet with other things. I dare say that the financial pressure on someone farming a more everyday vineyard is even greater.
I just rode 50km through the surroundings of St Emilion, there aren't even any hedges there really, all removed to make it easier for the 40-50 tractors I saw spraying.
 
Don’t work as in they have zero impact?

A great many would disagree and have reduced use of copper and synthetic fungicides as a result of spraying with things that ‘don’t work’.

Use of nettles etc is far from limited to organic/biodynamic certified producers. Maybe they are all wasting their time. You should let them know. ;)


I just rode 50km through the surroundings of St Emilion, there aren't even any hedges there really, all removed to make it easier for the 40-50 tractors I saw spraying.
MIlk can be effective at 10% rates. However you need to reapply at 7 days, not 14 , so you will have more sprayers spraying. To get a good coverage with a protectant you would need to apply 1000L per ha, so apply 100 L of milk per hectare per week. Given the carbon intensity of cattle I am really struggling to see how this could be seen as sustainable in any way (or whey)
 
Sean, I don’t think the proponents of using milk are doing it routinely or exclusively. It’s just part of the toolkit (monitoring, cover crops, canopy management, treatments).

Bloody hippies. ;)

Anyway, the point is that screaming ‘copper’ when someone mentions the benefits of organic farming seems like whatabouttery to me. ;).
 
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Sean, I don’t think the proponents of using milk are doing it routinely or exclusively. It’s just part of the toolkit (monitoring, cover crops, canopy management, treatments).

Bloody hippies. ;)

Anyway, the point is that screaming ‘copper’ when someone mentions the benefits of organic farming seems like whatabouttery to me. ;).
There is plenty of whatabouttery on both sides of the argument for it to go around. What I am saying is that just because someone claims to be organic, it doesnt automatically mean that it is better for the environment. Not many growers of either stripe that I know dont (monitoring, cover crops, canopy management, treatments). I farmed a 150ha vineyard organically and I am not sure if it was sustainable. I now farm a different 150 ha sustainably using all the tools that modern science provides. ;) It doesnt need to be binary.
 
Ah but the point is at least organic has a definition - even if one doesn't like it - sustainable means different things to different people, and ultimately not a lot - someone should come up with a new 'certification' (better than HVE).

Anyway I am mostly a consumer and secondarily a retailer, but I hear the conversations on this more and more. We don't have any rigid guidelines on what to stock, I am sure we would stock your wines if we discussed details :), though you would be our largest producer by 10-20x. ;)
 
Anyway, the point is that screaming ‘copper’ when someone mentions the benefits of organic farming seems like whatabouttery to me. ;).
This is an interesting point. And I’m probably guilty of screaming ‘copper’. And yet - a couple of days ago I was looking at the Reyneke Organic Chenin on the Waitrose site, and half the reviews seemed to mention the health benefits of organic wine. While this corner of the internet is surely the right place for a nuanced conversation, I can’t help feeling that there’s still some room for bullish “organic isn’t what they want you to think it is” commentary.

I don’t *feel* like a whattabouter, but I suppose whattabouters rarely do do they?
 
Well I suppose the counterpoint is that on average, conventional supermarket wines will probably use more copper (and sulphur) than organic ones, because copper remains cheap and effective.

Thats not to mention everything outside of fungicides, which is quite a specific path this conversation has turned.

But let's not buy supermarket wines.. ;)
 
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- a couple of days ago I was looking at the Reyneke Organic Chenin on the Waitrose site, and half the reviews seemed to mention the health benefits of organic wine---
This is a bit like a smoker extolling the benefits of organic cigarettes (just saying) - that's not the bit that's going to kill you!

Surely organic and biodynamic production is more about the long-term health of the soil and its other fauna and flora than about human health? If a by-product of this is a cleaner, tastier wine then so much the better, I'm all for it! As an ignorant amateur I can't be useful to much of this discussion but I do find it fascinating..
 
This is a bit like a smoker extolling the benefits of organic cigarettes (just saying) - that's not the bit that's going to kill you!
Absolutely- I have friends who are frantically keen to avoid all 'additives', pesticides, red meat and non-organic food in general yet are perfectly happy to drink a bottle of wine a day. Completely barmy. The best reason to seek out the finest produce, whether food or wine, is for pure pleasure.
 
Absolutely- I have friends who are frantically keen to avoid all 'additives', pesticides, red meat and non-organic food in general yet are perfectly happy to drink a bottle of wine a day. Completely barmy. The best reason to seek out the finest produce, whether food or wine, is for pure pleasure.
Sort of relevant to this Wine in the tropics
I'm not sure what I think about eco-resorts for the super wealthy, I am troubled by the idea that sustainable behaviour is a huge luxury.
 
Stunned by the suggestion that Lavantureux Chablis Vauprin does not taste like Chablis I took one for the team.

the bouquet undoubtedly displays all the marine minerality of fine Chablis
the palate does also show the additional richness of recent vintages, especially 2019. This is less classically old style Chablis from that perspective, but it is what we are going to get in future.

A stunning wine whether you think it Chablisien or not - the bottle did not last very long between the two of us

Vauprin.jpg
 
Jasper, I assume the Lavantureux is an organic producer? I bought a case of 6 of the 2020 and we've recently got stuck in, because well, why not. I found that it was refreshingly free from oak - the oak cloak I find very off-putting, but I did notice that it really needed to be served chilled, at least for my palate, because it seemed far less palatable at closer to room temperature compared with other Chardonnays I drink. I think it probably could have benefited from another year or two in the cellar to give it a chance - which is what I will try and do with the remaining bottles. My note of it is below:

  • 2020 Roland Lavantureux Chablis - France, Burgundy, Chablis (5/6/2022)
    Golden in colour with faintest green tint. Sea shells and hint of seaweed on the nose. Quite round with a slightly viscous mouthfeel with some minerally mid-palate complexity, yet there's no getting away from the prominent acidity which keeps the wine very savoury and really demands food. A decent village Chablis and gleefully free of oak, presumably elevated in tanks.. May benefit from ageing in bottle a year or so. Best served cool as performs noticeably below this level when closer to room temperature. From Conterno Sensory. (87 pts.)
 
Sort of relevant to this Wine in the tropics
I'm not sure what I think about eco-resorts for the super wealthy, I am troubled by the idea that sustainable behaviour is a huge luxury.
I know what you mean, but of course sustainable bevaviour is not always a luxury.

In many cases the "best" way to behave is to do nothing. Don't travel to an eco-resort, but stay at home. And likewise I'd guess that the poor man's option of no wine at all is better than sustainable wine.

Just sayin'. Far be it from me to preach, but sometimes I think we are too slow to realise that sacrifices need to be made, and the bulk of that burden necessarily falls on the wealthy.
 
Sean, I don’t think the proponents of using milk are doing it routinely or exclusively. It’s just part of the toolkit (monitoring, cover crops, canopy management, treatments).

Bloody hippies. ;)

Anyway, the point is that screaming ‘copper’ when someone mentions the benefits of organic farming seems like whatabouttery to me. ;).

Rather than whatabouttery, its more about justification for the prohibition of any synthetic products in organic viticulture. Organics has two solid principles which give it environmental advantages. Using organic fertilisers instead of non-organic, Haber process ones is better for long-term soil viability and also for the reduction of greenhouse gases and fossil-fuel use. Dependence on chemical weedkillers at the expense of ploughing or using cover-crops is also bad environmental practice. However, when it comes to pesticide usage, the whole organic premise turns away from environmental issues to a combination of luddite thinking and scare-mongering.

The prohibition of synthetic pesticides makes it easy to create certification rules and also provides a narrative for marketing organic wines to people who get scared about the idea of pesticide residues in what they consume.

What organic or biodynamic producers tell their clients needs be taken with a pinch of salt. I've heard all sorts of bullshit spouted when customers are present. What matters to me is whether restricting my pesticide choices to non-synthetics and spraying homeopathic teas and potions will improve the environment of my vineyards, protect my harvest and reduce my own health risks. Having had dozens of discussions with growers and vineyard managers, attended numerous courses and read tons of scientific papers, I remain convinced that it won't. It will mean spraying more chemicals, more frequently, using 3-4 times as much diesel and increasing the risk of disease without providing any environmental benefit. In fact spraying sulphur throughout the growing season will reduce the level of wild yeasts and malolactic bacteria that I want for wild fermentation.

The reason growers give for using things like milk, teas and oils is to try to reduce the amounts of organic fungicide that they need to protect their crops. They may help but the proof of the pudding is the losses of crop and quality that organic growers suffer during a difficult year. To me it's like the argument used for taking immunity-booster vitamins, herbal teas etc to protect your body from viruses like Covid, instead of taking the vaccine.

I think HVE level 3 is a very good system for ensuring environmental, sustainable practices and I'm a bit frustrated to hear that retailers and consumers distrust or dismiss it. Could you explain why HVE3 isn't a good enough certification?
 
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I've just been selecting some fungicides for powdery mildew. I get an annual book that lists all the products and their characteristics, like health risks, efficacity and resistance. What came as a bit of surprise, although I had wondered about it, was the high proportion of organic fungicides that are classified as threats to pollinating insects. Six organic sulphur-based products, as well as essential orange oil, are marked as dangerous, not to be sprayed where there are flowering plants. In contrast only two synthetic products, out of a much larger range, have that environmental warning.
 
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