Organics and biodynamics are big buzzwords in food, clothing and winemaking today but they need to be backed up by certification, if they are to have meaning.
Enter Frederic Coulon from Domaine Beauregard in the southern Rhone Valley. He visited New Zealand this week and popped into Regional Wines to meet our staff and show us two of his biodynamically certified red wines; a Chateauneuf du Pape and a Rasteau.
Talk about impressive wines.
The story is even more so.
Frederic described how his father inspired his family to take the journey into organic and biodynamic winemaking.
The seventh generation French winemaker said his father used chemicals on the winery’s vineyards in the 1950s, but encouraged change from his sons. So they did make changes. Dramatic ones. Today, biodynamic certification is more important than organic certification because it is better for the land, said Frederic, when talking about the work he and his family put into keeping the vineyards chemical-free and full of biodiversity, which is paramount for producing high quality grapes from the land.
Organic and biodynamic certification
Domaine de Beaurenard's vineyards are certified organic with Ecocert and biodynamic with Demeter.
Today all 60 hectares of Domaine de Beaurenard’s vines are grown organically and biodynamically with certification to back it up. The family owns 32 hectares of vines in Chateauneuf du Pape (the most famous appellation in the southern Rhone Valley) and another 25 hectares in Rasteau, which was elevated to a Cotes du Rhone cru appellation in 2010, due to the quality of its wines and the focus of its winemakers. The Rasteau appellation is also home to vin du natural fortified wines, but we looked at two dry reds with Frederic Coulon this week.
The Coulon family continue to use all 13 grape varieties allowed in the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation, including the white grape varieties of Clairette, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Picardan and Picpoul.
Old vines, low yields, high quality
The average vine age in their Chateauneuf du Pape vineyards is 45 years old and yields of grapes are low. Which is why the quality is so high.
Domaine de Beaurenard wines that we stock
2017 Domaine de Beaurenard Rasteau $44.99
2016 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape $87.99
2016 Domaine de Beaurenard Chateauneuf du Pape Boisrenard $136.99