A Perspective on Biodynamics

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Adam Castagna and the flow form

I have, generally, been a bit hesitant to write about our biodynamic stature as biodynamics for us is a process of work rather than a method of selling wine.  I have often been asked to explain scientifically what biodynamics is, and this, too, I have found difficult to do:   Not that biodynamics doesn’t have a basis in science, but rather that I am really not competent to explain it well.  Biodynamics for me is intuitive;  a craft rather than a science.  However, I have recently come across what I think is a wonderful, simple explanation of the biodynamic compost preparations by Professor Stuart B. Hill, previously of the Department of Entomology McGill University, Canada, now Department of Social Ecology, University of Western Sydney-Hawkesbury – and I would like to share his take on biodynamics with you. Professor Hill is one of the few people who have conducted formal research into the mechanics of biodynamics.

“Biodynamics tends to be presented with a high level of mythology and talk of etheric forces and so on, but if you analyse the preparations you find they are in fact, if properly made, highly concentrated inoculums containing high levels of trace elements and a variety of micro-organism.”

The starting point for the compost preparations are the flowers of several plants which Rudolf Steiner specified should be picked on the first day the flowers opened.

“Each of the specified flowers has different characteristics that makes them ideal substrates for specific groups of micro-organisms and picking them on the day they open ensures they contain the most concentrated levels of trace minerals. Different flowering plants use different trace minerals as catalysts to produce odours that attract insects for successful pollination. The plant pumps the minerals, which can be in short supply in some environments, up into the flower on the day it opens to maximise its attraction to pollinators while the receptor are fresh. It then recycles them by translocating them to the next flower that opens and so one;  repeatedly re-using the minerals to the plant’s maximum benefit. So picking fresh flowers ensures maximum trace mineral content in the preparations”.

Biodynamic preparation

Biodynamic preparation

When the mixtures of flowers and other components are buried, as prescribed by Steiner, they are colonised by micro-organisms from the surrounding soil and the microbes continue to multiply and build up on the substrate provided by the flowers until the material is broken down.  At that stage they produce spores, so the preparations dug out of the ground are concentrated inoculants of trace minerals and spores of a range of micro-organisms:  everything needed to trigger a high level of biological activity in the compost or soil, depending on the particular preparation. There are undoubtedly other factors or forces at work, but that is at least part of the scientific explanation for that element of the process.”

Castagna Sparkling Genesis at Juveniles

Some lovely candid shots of Tim Johnston and friends enjoying some Castagna Sparkling Genesis at Juveniles Wine Bar in Paris.

Castagna 2008 Sparkling Genesis

Tim Johnston with a bottle of Castagna 2008 Sparkling Genesis

Castagna 2008 Sparkling Genesis

Tim Johnston and friends at Juveniles in Paris, sharing a glass of Castagna 2008 Sparkling Genesis

To read the tasting notes for this amazing wine please go to our Wines page at www.castagna.com.au

On Innovation

adam_egg_captionI am continually looking for ways to further help the fruit complexity from our vines, shine through in our wine. Even the highest quality, finest fine-grain French oak, needs very careful handling. I was therefore very excited when last year I tasted a Pinot Noir which had been matured in an egg-shaped food-grade concrete tank. The wine from the egg tank had bright Pinot fruit characters with really fresh expressive complex aromas – to my mind a better wine than the same wine matured only in oak, although both were wonderful.

The egg shape has been referred to as ‘the most perfect shape in physics’.

I couldn’t help searching out these tanks and buying some, to add them to the mix of container types we use for maturation. They hold 900 litres and are the most beautiful wine tank I have ever seen. Their shape reduces pressure on the lees and also deposits the lees over a larger surface area which should eliminate battonage.

Vintage 2016 – our experience through photos

Some words and images from Alexis Castagna.

Photos of my experience during vintage 2016 at the farm, I had an absolute blast. Castagna and ‪#‎AdamsRibWines‬, see you soon for ‪#‎chestnuts‬ ‪#‎bottling‬ ‪#‎oliveoil‬ and ‪#‎openday2016‬.

At last, a quiet moment. Just my brother and I.

Random patterns on the press #beauty and #chaos

Random patterns on the press #beauty and #chaos

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Adam showing his true colours.

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Castagna – Best Cellar Door

For the second year running Castagna has been awarded in the Gourmet Traveller WINE’s annual Cellar Door Awards. It is truly is lovely to be recognised like this once again. To experience Castagna for yourself, head to our Contact page to make an appointment.

Gourmet Traveller WINE 2016 Cellar Door Award - Best Tasting Experience Alpine Valleys/Beechworth

Gourmet Traveller WINE 2016 Cellar Door Award – Best Tasting Experience Alpine Valleys/Beechworth