A fight has been started. Organic and biodynamic producers everywhere are trying to preserve the integrity of their Appellations of Origin (AOC) and stop their identities from being standardised by industrial concerns. Burgundy happens to be one of the key frontiers where the fight is on. And Burgundy has the most intricate of all of France’s Appellation systems, very much worth saving. One group doing a lot of hard work in this area is the growers’ association “Renaissance des Appellations”, sometimes going under the alias “Return to Terroir”. Members of Renaissance des Appellations all practice Biodynamics, and share similar views on the role of wine producers as custodians of land and terroir. Most see their role as being to encourage the connection of the plant to its local and cosmic environment, and then ultimately translating this network of life and sensory complexity for the drinker.
To spend a day at a trade show or tasting organised by this group of producers confirms that Biodynamics has a real impact. The wines you can taste from virtually any of the members is usually pretty close to perfection, and always very pure. They seem to translate terroir with honesty, no make-up.
So what are they protecting, and what is terroir? In an Australian context, I thought Max Allen and his guest speakers summed terroir up pretty well at a conference held in 2013. You can listen to the whole conference on the link below. It is all really interesting, even the speech from Andrew Caillard MW, whose views I personally don’t share on this occasion. Or you can just listen to the first 5mn from Max.