a little respekt
One of the many reasons I stopped eating meat years ago was my firm belief that we all were put on this planet to do what our instincts tell us we must do. Yes—carnivores must hunt. But mothers must be with their babies. A farming system that tears mother cows away from their yet-to-be-weaned calves to be slaughtered upends the natural order of things.
I received a press release today from respekt-BIODYN, an association of 22 Biodynamic wineries from Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary. It got me curious, so I checked out this group's vinification standards for Biodynamic rosés.
All farming was more or less Biodynamic before the advent of chemical agriculture in the early 20th century. And Rudolph Steiner laid down the principles of Biodynamics decades before organic farming was codified. So Biodynamic viticulture and oenology is thought to produce the most "natural" of wines.
But for me, there's a big glaring problem in the guidelines below. It's item #12.
Sulfur is used in both the vineyard and the winery. And in rosé production, it's used too much, particularly in the cellar. Winemakers rely too heavily on its anti-microbial, anti-oxidant properties. The result: Too many rosés stink so much of sulfur that it's impossible to smell the wine.
Of course, no one wants a spoiled wine. But I think there's a happy medium. I would welcome a natural or Biodynamic wine group that, in its guidelines, discourages the use of sulfur to block malolactic fermentation.
Malo, as it's called, is a natural process which converts tart malic acid into soft lactic acid. It happens spontaneously in the cellar unless it is stopped. And it is nearly always stopped for rosé. But why? So the wine will be crisp and bright rather than silky and creamy? But aren't there enough mass-produced crisp rosés out in the world already?
A fermenting wine is a living thing. And its instincts tell it to complete malo. If the winemaker's goal is a natural-tasting wine that has fermented spontaneously (see items #4 and #5, below), why not allow the wine to finish the fermentation process naturally and go through malo? Why block it?