Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Reyneke Biodynamic Winegrowing Yields South African Gems

Reyneke Biodynamic Wines

A stranger to South African wine? Whet your appetite with these picks.

Ancient Practices For Modern Wine

Biodynamic methods have been at the cutting edge -- some might say the outer fringe -- of winegrowing for many years. Rather than a new technique, it harkens back to age-old cycles of agriculture.

Keep up with the latest. Follow us on Instagram!

Biodynamic farming, while very similar to organic farming, is unique in that it conceives of a vineyard as an entire ecosystem on its own. Biodynamic practices also incorporate ancient ideas like astrological influences, natural preparations to protect and aid the vines, and lunar cycles. No synthetic chemicals are used in the farming of the grapes, and oftentimes animals like cows, alpacas, and sheep are used to complete the vineyard ecosystem and increase biodiversity.

There are now more than 4,500 certified biodynamic wineries worldwide in more than 50 countries. Reyneke Wines in Stellenbosch has the distinction of being the very first winery certified as biodynamic (by Demeter International) in all of South Africa.

The Reyneke team is led by Johan Reyneke who took over farming activities on the family farm more than 20 years ago and produced the first wine. He gradually moved from conventional farming practices to organic and now to biodynamic principles.

Sustainable Wine Ecosystem

At Reyneke, the farm is seen as an ‘individuality’. It needs to be self-sustainable and self-supporting. Why? If the farm can produce its own fertilizer and compost, this means it’s less dependent on trucking-in fertilizer in clouds of diesel exhausts. If the farm is self-sufficient, their own cow manure ‘costs’ the same every day, no matter the price of oil.

Never Miss A Beat – Follow Vino-Sphere On Facebook

The vineyards are herbicide, fungicide, and pesticide-free. Instead, companion plants are used to out-compete the weeds and natural predators (like ducks) are used to combat pests.

Reyneke Syrah with Seared Duck BreastIs all the care that goes into growing the grapes reflected in the glass? We recently opened a selection of Reyneke wines to find out.

First of all, we are mighty fans of Stellenbosch and South African wines. We find that wines from here have Old World sensibilities with the bold flavors of the New World. Our faith in this great wine region was borne out with the Reyneke wines.

The 2018 Vinehugger Red is a blend of 85% Shiraz and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is an explosion of red fruit and spice flavors with several layers. It’s a smooth wine with light tannins courtesy of 25% aging in used oak barrels. This is amazingly good for $14.99.

The white counterpart is the 2018 Vinehugger White, which is 100% Chenin Blanc. This is a fresh and vibrant surprise for anyone whose love of white wine has been dulled by nondescript Chardonnay. There are flavors of apricot and citrus and lip-smacking acidity. The finish is 80% stainless steel and 20% mature oak barrels. This wine was a favorite as we wrapped up a long, hot day on the patio. SRP is $16.99.

Reyneke also offers its 2018 Chenin Blanc, a top of the line South African Chenin that has captured a slew of awards. The grapes come from vineyards planted in the 1970s and the wine is aged in second use French oak and larger 2,500-litre casks. It is aged on the lees for 10 months to give added complexity. Pear, grapefruit, and melon flavors abound in this delightful wine. SRP is $33.99.

A Spectacular Syrah Wine Dinner

We selected the 2017 Syrah for a special wine dinner. This wine retails for $28.99. A third of the grapes are crushed by foot and all are then fermented in concrete tanks. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation and gets 14 months in oak and another three months in stainless steel.

This is biodynamic winemaking at its best. All the nuances of the wine are present with rushing blueberry and raspberry fruit notes and a complex undercurrent of savory herbs and pepper. The tannins provide a nice structure without being overbearing.

We had to up our culinary game to match this fine wine. Our meal was a succulent Seared Duck with Date Jus and Parmesan Foam with Smashed Fingerling Potatoes. My diet lately has been pretty regulated with mostly plant-based dishes. For the night, though, we reveled in the rich duck breast with the sweet date sauce. The fingerling potatoes were cooked in duck fat -- oh, the delicious decadence! The Syrah was bold enough to stand up to the richness for a divine pairing of biodynamic goodness and fine dining.

I’ve never been sure how much difference the practices of biodynamic winegrowing really makes. One thing that has always been certain is that when you are meticulous in the details and show care for the earth, the quality and love shine through to the wine. We heartily recommend Reyneke wines!

Full disclosure: These wines were received as a marketing sample.

No comments: