The biodynamics is “emotional black magic”, shot at point-blank range viticulturalist Richard Smart, worldwide famous Australian and well-known consultant in Argentina, who faced biodynamics evangelist Monty Waldin in a debate at the London headquarters of the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.
On the other hand, the most famous producer in the Rhone region (France), Michel Chapoutier denounced natural winemakers –those against the practice of using sulphur dioxide to stabilize the wines– as “hippies making defective wines”
Smart against the biodynamics
In November, Decanter magazine published Smart’s statement that read: “organic and biodynamic winemaking lobby uses emotional black magic to get its message across.”
Smart argued that organic and biodynamic producers “considerably overstate the benefits of their approach to wine quality, consumers’ health and the environment.”
In the opposing corner, Waldin believes that the ‘tastiest, healthiest grapes’ are produced when Nature is ‘stewarded not enslaved’.
Both men are highly-qualified: Waldin has worked as a winemaker and published numerous books on biodynamic farming, including the Biodynamic Wine Guide 2011. On the other hand, Smart is a PhD who has written more than 350 articles on wine and was included in Decanter’s 2005 Power List.
Chapoutier pours scorn on natural winemakers
The famous Crozes Hermitage producer, who also makes wine in Australia, Portugal and Alsace, defends organic and biodynamic techniques, instead of those practices considered “natural”. English journalist Adam Lechmere, in an article published by Decanter, said that Chapoutier has added fuel to the fire of the debate by denouncing natural winemakers as “hippies from another world, who make defective wines.”
Interviewed in the January issue of Decanter, Chapoutier told John Livingstone-Learmonth that the practice of natural winemaking – that is, using no sulphur dioxide to stabilize the wines – is a con.
“It is rubbish. It’s like making vinegar, bad vinegar. How can anyone allow toxic yeasts to develop so that these inhabit the wine?,” he asked himself.
“It is extraordinary that people defend products with defects on the grounds that in the past, growers were making wines with defects. Those old wines had defects because people lacked the tools and means not to make fault-free wines, “he explained.
“No winemaker”, he argued, “should fold their arms and stare righteously at the ceiling while their wines turn malodorous through neglect.”
In another article in a previous Decanter issue, Isabelle Legeron Master of Wine, an ‘evangelist’ for natural wines and founder of the Natural Wine Fair, has pointed out how ‘bizarre’ it is that we question natural credentials of our food, but we are happy to drink wine that is effectively processed.