It’s a very wet spring and early summer for the 2018 vintage and the mildew that everyone is suffering from is even heavier in properties that are biodynamic with their only defence copper and sulphate (allowed as they are ‘natural’ but in tiny doses) and infusions of nettle and Horsetail. Cellar master/vineyard manager Nicolas Cosse at biodynamic Clos Puy Arnaud received us start July 2018. He showed us the vines and highlighted this problem and went on to unveil the wonderful world of wines produced as naturally as possible in the difficult humid climate of Bordeaux.
In this little corner of Bordeaux, in the appellation of Castillon (now called Bordeaux, Côtes de Castillon) at Clos Puy Arnaud produce a range of modern red wines pushing against the strict rules of the Bordeaux appellation – adopting their own sort of liberty within this system on the outskirts of the famous region of Bordeaux.
Grapes are grown on 11 ha of vines treated biodynamically with herbal preparations and no synthetic chemicals. The old Elm tree which has thrived for over 200 years represents one of the rare examples that survive not suffering from the usual disease. It is their emblem and is a great symbol for this independant property run by Thierry Valette, of the old St Emilion family (previous co-owner of Pavie and Troplong Mondot).
The wines were vibrant with fresh black cherry fruity flavours and the oak aging so representative of Bordeaux is gentle (if there is any!).
Here are some of the typical herbal reparations in biodynamic viticulture;
Horsetail (Prêle): stimulates the natural defences of the plant. Preventative effect on Mildew.
Nettle (Ortie): Rich in iron. Moderate preventative effect on Mildew.
Juniper Berries (Genivievre): Helps ripening.
Marigold (Soucis): helps sooth shock such as in a changeable spring
Willow tree (Osier): can unblock sap blocked by the cold. Preventative effect on Mildew.
Milfoil (Achillée Millefeuille): catalyser, helps the vine to pass to another step of its development
Bramble – young shoots and flowers (Ronce): helps with the pollination of the flower. Helps the development of the young vine
Camomille (Camomille) – calming and reassuring helps lack and excess water
Cypress (Cypres)- fights against grape worm and wood diseases
Bay leaf, Rosemary, Thyme and Dill (Laurier, Romarin, Thym, Fenoul) – promotes plant’s own immunity, fights against grape worms and wood diseases