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Do you care if your next bottle of wine was produced biodynamically?

I don't.

However, I was thoroughly impressed by the number of biodynamically involved wineries from around the world that participated in a recent trade and press tasting at L.A.'s Skirball Center.

And by the overall quality of the wines.

I'm still in the dark, however, about all the ins and outs of biodynamic vineyard farming. In the simplest of terms, things are done the natural way. The farming excludes the use of herbicides, chemical fertilizers, aromatic additives such as oak chips and tannin powder; and it doesn't allow genetically engineered vines. For many producers and consumers, these are important.

Obviously, it's a global concern.

A Frenchman named Jean-Pierre Fleury, for example, switched to biodynamic farming in 1989 and became the first champagne producer to do so.

Champagne Fleury ( speaks for itself. The company has won numerous awards in recent years, and in my estimation you won't find a better nonvintage brut at its price (around $30) than the Fleury Brut Tradition Carte Rouge.

Perhaps even more impressive is the $60 bottle of '99 vintage bubbly from Francoise Bedel et Fils ( or 704-358-1565), a biodynamic vineyard in Champagne since 1998.

Numerous Alsace wines were featured with fine bottlings from Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss ( or 707-963-9661) and Domaine Zind Humbrecht ( in the forefront.

Famous Burgundy houses such as Pierre Morey and Domaine Leflaive (both or 707-963-9661) were represented at the tasting, the former with a refreshing 2003 Mersault ($60) and the latter with a silky 2001 Clavoillon Puligny Montrachet ($90).

But the most memorable of the French wines sampled was the beautifully balanced, bargain-priced claret ($12) 2004 Chateau Falfas, Les Demoiselles, ( from the Cotes de Bourg area of Bordeaux.

Current owners of the 55-acre property, biodynamic since 1988, are John and Veronique Cochran.

Chateau Falfas has a slightly more complex red for $16 and a top-line offering at $25 dubbed Le Chevalier, both 2004s.

Biodynamic wines from Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Spain, Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Chile and the United States (10 Californians) were presented.

The outstanding Californian was the 1,500-case-per-year cult wine from Araujo Estate, its intensely flavored 2003 Eisele Vineyard cabernet sauvignon ($215). A 2005 fresh, clean sauvignon blanc from the same vineyard is priced at $42.

A similarly alluring 2005 sauvignon blanc from Benziger Sonoma Mountain Estate winery ( goes for $29.

A biodynamic vineyard since 1994, Benziger produces a flagship Bordeaux blend red titled "Tribute." Its lovely 2003 ($75) consists of 69percent cabernet sauvignon, 15percent cabernet franc, 11percent merlot and 5percent petit verdot.

Making wine the natural way might seem idealistic to some, but it doesn't seem to interfere with its worth.

NEW RELEASES: One of the more reliable bargain labels from California is that of Chateau Julien of Monterey County. Its latest releases, all priced at $10, are two 2003 reds, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, and two 2005 whites, chardonnay and pinot grigio. (831) 624-2600 or ...

Geyser Peak is pushing its 2006 sauvignon blanc ($12) as a great wine alternative to sake or beer with sushi. (800) 255-9463 or ... Made with "cool" grapes primarily harvested between 9p.m. and 7a.m. from its Dunnigan Hills, Calif., estate vineyards, R.H. Phillips Night Harvest wines ($8 per bottle) are now on the shelves. Look for two 2005 whites (sauvignon blanc, chardonnay), one 2005 blush (white zinfandel) and three 2004 reds (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz). ... Warm and fuzzy about merlot? Then perk up at these moderately priced 2004 new merlot releases: BV Coastal Estates ($9), Sterling Vintner's Collection ($13) and Edna Valley Vineyard ($13).

The Wineline column appears alternate Tuesdays.

Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668




no caption (book: "Night Harvest")
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 20, 2007
Previous Article:GOOD TASTES.

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