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Biodynamic Wines [Hardcover]

Monty Waldin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Oct 2004 Classic Wine Library
This pioneering book studies biodynamic wines and winemaking principles and is written by an award-winning expert and leading authority on the subject. Monty Waldin explains in detail how biodynamic winemaking differs from organic winemaking, and how this in turn differs from conventional methods. The first part of the book describes the principles used and how the technique has evolved, including the important influence of Rudolf Steiner. The second part offers in-depth profiles of the world's biodynamic producers and their wines, featuring their winemaking philosophies and methods, contact details, and information about visiting wineries to experience the methods in use. There are also two ratings given to the wines and producers, the first is for quality and value for money and the second is for particularly noteworthy examples.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Mitchell Beazley (14 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840009640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840009644
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 21.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 363,956 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

M O N T Y WA L D I N sensed when working as a teenager on a conventionally run Bordeaux château in the mid-1980s that the more industrial sprays were applied to the grapes, the more additives and other corrective treatments were needed subsequently during the winemaking. In the mid-1990s Monty became the first wine writer to specialize in green issues. His first book, The Organic Wine Guide (Thorsons, 1999), published whilst Monty developed a biodiversity project for a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard in California, was voted Britain's Wine Guide of the Year. He followed this with the multi award-winning Biodynamic Wines (Mitchell Beazley, 2004). Monty drew on his winemaking experiences in Chile for Wines of South America (Mitchell Beazley, 2003), winner of America's prestigious James Beard Book Award. In 2007 whilst living in Roussillon in France, Monty was filmed by Britain's Channel 4 for Château Monty, the first ever observational TV documentary on biodynamic winemaking from pruning to bottling (a six part series broadcast 2008). His other books include Discovering Wine Country: Bordeaux (2005) and Discovering Wine Country: Tuscany (2006), both Mitchell Beazley; and Château Monty (Portico, 2008). Monty has contributed to Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Guide (Mitchell Beazley), Tom Stevenson's Wine Report (Dorling Kindersley) and wrote the entries for biodynamics and organics in The Oxford Companion to Wine (ed. Jancis Robinson MW OBE, 2006). He has also contributed to BBC radio and TV, British newspapers (The Independent, London's Evening Standard, Daily Mail), and websites (jancisrobinson.com), as well as to wine, travel and environmental publications including Decanter, Harpers Wine & Spirit Trades Review, World of Fine Wine, The Ecologist, Star & Furrow (journal of the Biodynamic Agricultural Association, UK) and Biodynamics (journal of the Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association, USA).

Product Description

About the Author

Monty Waldin has worked around the world for a range of wine producers in Bordeaux, Chile, California, and Germany. He is the author of Mitchell Beazley's Wines of South Americo and the award-winning Organic Wine Guide (Thorsons) which he wrote after working for the Fetzer family - California's pioneering organic winemakers. He has been nominated for the Prix du Champagne Lanson and Glenfiddich drinks writing awards for his contributions to publications such as Harpers, Wine International, and Decanter. Monty lives in Stamford, England.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another invaluable guide. 12 Sep 2008
Format:Hardcover
The first book to tackle the sometimes contentious but rapidly growing world of Biodynamic wine making.

It is written with wit and knowledge and presents arguments that make it difficult to disagree.

The author has a mastery of his subject that is all too often rare in the arena of wine writing. He is unpretentious with it.

Overall, an excellent read if you are interested in wine, biodynamics, food production or the well-being of the planet.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Requested Gift 20 Jan 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My son who lives in New Zealand and makes wine for a Marlborough vineyard requested this book. He is very pleased with it, it has enough information for all levels of knowledge about biodynamic growing. Also it was excellent service - delivered the next day!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the future 27 Jan 2005
By Bevetroppo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
At the time of this writing, Biodynamic Wines by Monty Waldin ranks somewhere around 218,311 on the Amazon sales list and has not yet been reviewed by another reader. So in a sense, the fact that I'm writing this now is a labor of love, akin to Mr. Waldin's own passion for Biodynamic wine that spills out of the pages of this book. I stumbled upon BW as I was searching for a reliable introduction. I'll do my best to summarize what I gleaned from the complex subject Monty Waldin so ably describes, but just remember that any errors, imprecision or misstatements about Biodynamic wines that follow in this review are entirely my fault.

If you've never heard of Biodynamic winemaking, it's a combination of strict organic farming, belief in the self-sustainability of a vineyard, an almost religious attitude toward the inner life of soil, and an odd mixture of what sounds to the uninitiated like sorcery, paganism, astrology or hippies gone wild in the use of certain preparations in the vineyard and the timing of their application, all punctuated by a belief that plants respond to cosmic and lunar influences much like the tides. Although it has been around since the 1920's when it was "invented" in a series of lectures by Rudolph Steiner, Biodynamics has languished as a farming practice in the vineyard until relatively recently. In the wine world, it received a boost in France from the adoption by such luminaries as Nicholas Joly (1984) in the Loire, and Olivier Zind Humbrecht, France's first Master of Wine (1998) in Alsace. One also has to suspend at least momentarily the "bunch of kooks" argument when you learn that strict Biodynamics is observed in the vineyards of Domaine Leroy (1989) and Domaine Leflaive (1998) in Burgundy, makers of some of the most expensive, profound, and revered wines in the world.

Monty Waldin has worked on several continents in Biodynamic vineyards and has personally experienced the difference it can make in the health of soil, vines, grapes, and wines. To say he is committed to the practice is an understatement. But he doesn't let his passion for Biodynamics cloud the responsible and meticulous presentation of the case in this book, which could almost serve as a PhD dissertation on the subject or at minimum a primer for getting started. I've never grown anything more ambitious than tomatoes, but there's enough depth in how to apply Biodynamic theory that I think I could give it a shot in my backyard if I wanted to.

Steiner's lectures described the creation of Biodynamic preparations that are added to an organic compost heap almost like homeopathic remedies to prepare it for use in the vineyard. These seriously wacky recipes are detailed in Biodynamic Wines, and include such head-scratching techniques as burying a bunch of yarrow flowers in the bladder of a red deer stag heart for a year before digging it up and injecting it into the compost heap. Another requires grinding oak bark and burying it in the skull of a barnyard animal. Each Biodynamic preparation has its own highly specific reason for being in terms of influencing the health of the soil, stimulating the growth of certain parts of the vine at the appropriate time, etc. Curiously, however, despite the intricately detailed instructions for when various tasks are supposed to be performed in the vineyard, the practice of Biodynamics doesn't require that the grower follow the strictures on timing in any documentable way, and the rules don't appear to really cover winemaking at all. Nonetheless you can imagine that anyone willing to go through the trouble of stuffing chamomile flowers into cow intestines to make 20" sausages and then burying them for six months in an earthworm pot is unlikely to blast his wine with sulfur dioxide to preserve them artificially.

I found myself getting increasingly alarmed as I read through the early pages devoted to the composition of the Biodynamic preps. But then on page 65 I was jolted by the analysis Waldin does. He computes that in the course of a year, the average commercial vineyard uses enough herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other chemicals to equal 142 grams per bottle. Said another way, that's about 5 ounces of toxic chemical slurry in every bottle you drink of non-organic wine. Of course, the chemicals aren't really in the wine, but they are applied to the vineyards, dug into the earth, and sprayed on the vines, so who's to say what really makes it into the grape juice? Add to that the indisputable environmental costs, both in terms of pollutants and the energy expended, and suddenly renewable, self-sustainable Biodynamic farming starts to sound like the perfect solution for a small planet. And if terroir is your thing, what better than knowing all the manure used came from animals living right on the property itself?

As mentioned, the first 100 or so pages cover the history, philosophy, and practice of Biodynamics, including portraits of the most significant figures who have contributed to the theory along the way. The remainder is a painstaking compilation of all the Biodynamic/nearly Biodynamic wineries in the world, with commentary on the degree to which they are faithful practitioners and even ratings for quality and value for the money. Despite his obvious devotion to the subject, Waldin recognizes that Biodynamics are hardly a guarantee of great wine, so a number of the properties get panned when they fail to live up to the promise.

I was floored by the serious scholarship and even-handed advocacy Monty Waldin makes for Biodynamics in this book. I came away thinking it had much more reason for being than I would have otherwise imagined. My next task is side-by-side tastings of Biodynamic wines and their counterparts to see if I can detect a difference. So if anyone knows where I can find a bottle of Chateau Meylet from St. Emilion, the first Biodynamic Bordeaux, please let me know! Bravo, Monty, and thanks.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearty agreement 2 May 2005
By D. Shiach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I haven't much to add to Bevetroppo's fine review, except to full heartedly agree.

This book is not merely for wine buffs but also for those seeking enlightenment with respect to the wider subject of Biodynamics.

Waldin is not only in utter control of his subject but delivers his thoughts succintly, clearly and imaginatively.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars biodynamic wine,monte waldin 23 April 2009
By J. Kerr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I thourghly enjoyed this book. the author has worked in all types(conventional,organic,biodynamic) of vineyards and has firsthand knowledge of the biodynamic process. He takes you through the history,the practical use and the science that has come to corroborate what I some time refer to as voodoo agriculture. If anyone is considering converting their vineyard to biodynamic as we were, this is a great resource and overview of what it entails. His reviews of wineries from around the world and the quotes from the winemakers give further insight into why they chose to be biodynamic, their love of their land and the wines they produce. It's an ethos that our planet desperately needs in these times.
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