First of all, to all interested in this book consider not buying it and buying instead the other one by the same author: "Biodynamic Wine, Demystified
", also avalaible at Amazon.I was told to buy the tw together, but, although it has a different name, it is a second edition of the book with 90% the same text and some additions in chapters 3 and 4, appendix and a new foreword. I made the mistake of buying both of them and therefore finding myself $ out of pocket and feeling duped afterwards.
I bought the book because I was curious about byodinamics into wine but being familiar with byodinamics, it is not that I am a supporter or have deep knowledge on the subject but just I know in general terms what is about.
In general I found it an interesting book to read and think about but to start with, I mean chapter one, I found it to be a bit-of-too-much of an archaetypical vision of science opposed to nature as if they weren't compatible or even the same, mixed with a very deep pesimistic vision about what technology has brought to us compared to how things were in the 'Old times' where things seemed to be, according to the author, like paradise on Earth. If you mix that with the fact that he purposely uses a 'story' style to explain things and, with a mixture of basic science and common places, tries to explain why and how things work, the start cannot be worse or more deceptive. Added to this, in chapter one, more space is given to the nettle than to the vine -even though the chapter has to do with the Appellation de Origin Controlé (AOC)- and so the picture is complete.
The second chapter brings nothing new if one has read other books about organic agriculture but I guess it is a must, specially thinking that Joly's idea is to direct this book to wine lovers in general and not to specialists or people wanting to start their own byodinamic vineyard and cellar.
In the third chapter, Joly states two things which I completely agree with, first that the excess of homogenization in the world nowadays -not only in wine but in many other things- implies that there are no differences between a wine from Chile and a wine from France and, linked to this idea the fact that France, and the other countries of the so called 'Old World' in viticulture terms, cannot compete on the technology level since the other half of the world will automatically win the battle with cheap labour. Therefore a real need for creating a really different and personal wine exists and this book, in that context, makes sense.
However, many of his statements in this chapter -and unfortunately the book in general- are either dubious, half truths, out of context statements or simple lies -all of them unreferenced- examples of these are:
- the computer program he claims to be in use to choose the flavours of the wine by selecting different kinds of yeast,
- the comparison of an exotermic reaction -like the alcoholic fermentation is- with human fever -I'd say that, poetry appart, it has completely different starting points-,
- the asseveration that eliminating leaves to improve grape maduration is a contra-natura act,
- the affirmation that vines flowering before the summer solstice implies that the wine coming from their grapes cannot be really good due to the centrifugal forces as opposed to the centripetal ones -I'd say the ecliptic is still well above the equator then, so it seems to me a bit more as a defence to viticulture in cooler climates than something coming from deep thought and understanding-
- Etc, etc
Apart from that, whilst the book advances I find a big moral problem in the fact that, although the author so strongly opposses technology, no concerns about the global environment appear -I am not talking of the very fashionable global warming but of the 'real' environment- and, at the same time, he seems to be happy about the idea of using the 'evil system' -in his words- that has created this evil-situation -as he depicts it- in his favour in two ways: using his different points of view to eliminate competitors, and using all the logistics to send his bottles all over the world. I found both things completely immoral.
People with a scientific background will find yet more mistakes, misconceptions or prejudices, sometimes even apocaliptical rants like the one about the magnetic-pole shifting. But fortunately chapters 4 and 5 and even the small two-paged chapter 6 are worth the money paid for the book, in that part of the book one can start to understand how byodinamics work, I agree that many of the things that they do are not clear and lots of basic and oriented research are needed but some way or another the tricks work and create a fresh product one can happily drink.