Since ICI opened, we made the commitment to serve Biodynamic or Natural wines.
For the same reason we serve local, sustainably produced food: because it tastes better, we know where it comes from, who made it, and what’s in it. So we can stand by every single bottle of wine we serve.
I am by no mean a wine guru: like any French girl born in the 70’s in a rural setting, I started drinking wine (hum), around 12 years old. (Theo and Lucas, my dear sons, if you are reading this post, please switch off your computers).
Although I have 28 years of practice, I don’t consider that it gives me any sort of knowledge, and to be quite honest, I do not have the memory that is required to be a sommelier or simply a wine guru
However, I am able to recommend wines that taste delicious, that are made with care, wines that will bring a smile on your face and make you deeply happy because they are absolutely honest, beautiful & generous.
Because if nothing else, what I have learnt in the past 12 years, is that wine is food.
And like with food, we have been played with. Lied too. Abused. Not to say, slowly poisoned…
Now think about it for a second: what is wine? Grape juice. Yes. Grape juice. Fermented, raised, cared for, but at the beginning it all started in a field with a farmer, a grape farmer, who eventually will either sell his grapes (a negociant) or make himself the wine (a winemaker). Once you have re-established that very basic principle, then you can start looking at your wine a bit differently, and hopefully the same way you look at food.
Then you can decide what you want to eat- I mean drink.
The past few decades have dramatically changed the way wine is made. The now traditional method of winemaking involves steriles lands, clones vines, pesticides, fungicides and then adding a bunch of ICV D47 (if you like floral & fruity) or QA 23 (for spicy & tropical fruits). Yes, every bottle is manipulated to become a product with very specific characteristics that can be sold to a very targeted audience.
Making Natural or Biodynamic wine is not a marketing niche (as it might be for a lot of the food sold in this country now) but a true desire to have wine that reflects a terroir, a grape, a tradition, and that is made in respect with the environment.
What are natural wines?
It is quite simple in fact, natural wines are made with grapes that are grown organically or biodynamically. They are hand harvested. The fermentation then occurs with natural yeasts, and the addition of Sulfute dioxide is either skipped altogether or minimal. As a result, you have a wine that will taste better, will have more complexe aromas and will complement the food rather than dulling it (and if you rewind just a few decades ago and before chemicals & machines appeared in the fields, you will understand that this is the way wine had been made for centuries).
What are biodynamic wines?
Biodynamie is wider than winemaking alone: it is a way of farming. It starts by respecting the principals of organic farming and then going further, integrating lunar cycles and other cycles. The winemaker regards the vineyard as a micro-universe and balances sustainably the life within respecting strict rules and looking at it like a living organism. The idea is to strengthen and explode the maximum potential of the vines, unleashing his true expression without depleating neither the vine, nor the soil, nor the environement. As a result, biodynamic wines are the best expression of the grapes & the terroir (Rudolph Steiner set the principles of this way of farming in the 1920’s).
So in short, all Biodynamic wines are natural, not all natural wines are biodynamics, all natural wines are organic, but not all organic wines are natural (the grapes can be grown organically but then during the vinification, things can get weird). Until we can get to have labels that are more comprehensive on each bottle, it remains really hard to distinguish the good, from the bad from the ugly.
And it all comes down to the easy principle: you must know the farmer. At ICI, we do the legwork for you and we can stand by the way each bottle has been made: natural or biodynamic.