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Hi Jeannette
Welcome to the Virtuous Vine Newsletter. Here, you will find news about our current commercial activity, some food for thought, and other little drops in the ocean to help wash it all down.

Field of Dreams - The Natural
by Charlie Simpson 

 Field of dreams - The Natural

Co-planting is an ancient practice, so old that it would have existed unconsciously and instinctively, not as a purposefully sought out method of agriculture.
In fact, its antithesis (i.e. planting a field with a single variety of plant, or more accurately in today’s era, we should say the planting of a single cloned genetic individual), is likely no more than a hundred years old at most, and is nothing more intelligent than a consequence of the hunt for easy farming and high yields.
GMOs, clonal selection, super-productive clones, resistant clones, etc. These were the 20th Century’s solutions to the age-old dilemma of farming (seasonal changes, weather variations, crop diseases, differing yields). Prior to this, diversity, instinct and superstition were relied on.
Today, there is a return to the ancient practices, more harmonious, holistic and sustainable, but now with more intelligence and less superstition. Co-plantation is one such response. Today, in viticulture, we call it a “field blend”, where multiple grape varieties are planted in the one field. They all live together, grow together, are harvested together and ferment together.
Field blends are an echo of a well functioning modern multicultural society, where individuals are allowed to identify with and express their macro and micro cultural specificities of origin, yet function uniquely in response to their new environment, and also in response to the other cultures around them. They all impact on each other, such that the presence of each different culture has its influence on the general direction of the “local” culture. Each individual is a unique expression of the combination of its own genetic baggage, its past, its present environment, and its reaction to the other individuals surrounding it. The result is, on mass, a stronger society with more complex and complete responses to a given situation; i.e. in vineyard terms, a healthier and more resistant field. And in wine terms, the result is an end product where grape variety often slides well into the background, and terroir can speak loudly.
It’s actually the same argument that applies to natural fermentations. By using a high performance selected yeast, an oenologist is allowing only one individual yeast clone to express itself in the fermentation. Whereas during a natural fermentation, where the full population of indigenous yeast are allowed to have their impact, multiple and complex answers are given to the same question, i.e. a more complex wine aromatically and texturally.
And worse still, it should be mentioned, there is a new trend where wealthier wineries will hire a laboratory to select a yeast strain from their own cellar and reproduce it for use in their winery. This allows them to respond to the awkward question about how their wine is fermented with a more comfortable response “we use our own unique home-grown and selected yeast”. Some reputed wineries even commercialise their “home selected” yeast on the pretext that it will make other wines great like their own. But ultimately, it all falls down on the same problem: one individual gets all the say. It’s a bit like a nationalist dictatorship.
We vote for diversity! And this, at all levels, from micro-biology to plant genetics, to wine and food, and society and politics.
In our humble opinion…

by Charlie Simpson 

Domaine Marc Kreydenweiss - Costières de Nîmes (Rhône)
Marc Kreydenweiss inherited his family's vineyards in Andlau in Alsace in 1971. He then became one of the pioneers of Biodynamic viticulture during the 1980's. With a flourishing set of vineyards and exceptional quality wines, and an equally flourishing family of willing sons, Marc decided to leave the Alsace vineyards and build a vineyard in the Southern Rhone, in the Costières de Nimes appellation.
In 1999 he purchased 6 hectares of very old Carignan vines (at that time an endangered variety). He planted Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and some whites including a curious field-blend of north meets south (Vermentino, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat). The balance of limestone, rich clay soils, rolled river pebbles famous in Chateauneuf du Pape and old vines gave Marc and his family the possibility to create Biodynamic red wines of stunning depth, yet with striking energy and freshness.
The domaine now produces wine from 18 hectares of vines, all around the family home. Diversity is the key. All fields are planted with massal selection (i.e. rather than planting clones, they allow natural mutations and multiplicity in plant genetics). Inter-rows are sewn with a variety of complementary crops to increase microbial life and diversity, and encourage earthworms to head deeper and deeper into the soil, giving life and the possibility for the plant roots to follow. All fermentations are of course on native yeasts, diverse and complex.
by Charlie Simpson 

Skin contact - the sensual way to wine and dine
First, a very quick refresher course in Orange wine making. The initiated can skip forward a bit.
Orange wine / skin contact white / maceration white. These are all terms to describe the same thing: wine made from white wine grapes where the wine spends an unusually long time infusing with the solids (skins, seeds, and perhaps stems, etc.). Of particular importance is the contact with the skins as they contain lots of aromatic compounds and tannins, which are thus infused into the wine. The infusion (maceration) could last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months or even a year or more. Red wine is classically made in this style. Thus the easy analogy is that Orange wine is white grapes made like a red wine.
Orange wine is not like rose. Rose is made using red grapes which are pressed off the skins immediately after harvest, prior to fermentation. Thus the juice receives very little or no skin contact. Classic white wine is made in this way. Thus the easy analogy is that Rose wine is red grapes made like a white wine.
So what’s the big deal!? Orange wines, thanks to their long maceration, contain a certain amount of tannin, which is a great carrier of flavour when food is in the picture. Likewise, the wine has had a certain level of exposure to oxygen during its maturation, which tends to generate more robust flavours, again good for food.
In gastronomy, we tend not to match white wines with robust food dishes, especially aromatic whites. This is because the majority of classic white wines would not stand up to the power of the food, i.e. the delicate aromas of the white would be wiped out by the richness of the dish. Orange wines, however, can provide the chance to match aromatic “white” wine flavours with robust dishes, thanks to the robust structure of the wine. An orange wine can therefore behave like a sprig of rosemary or a handful of bay leaves in a rich osso bucco, for example.
Marc Kreydenweiss co-planted 1 hectare of white grape varieties in his Rhone domaine in 1999. The field is planted with 3 Rhone varieties and 3 Alsatian varieties – Grenache Blanc, Vermentino, Viognier, Reisling, Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer. This diverse population of differing cultures lives together. Surprisingly, the grapes reach ripeness at the same time, despite the different varieties being genetically prone to being over a month apart. The whole field is harvested together and made into a delicious orange wine, filled with aromatics including orange and lemon rind, lavender and herbal tea, with a very grippy tannic structure which melts in the mouth once food is introduced. Delicious!
by Charlie Simpson 


Word of ze month "Planter" (verb)
To dig a hole and fill it with a plant.
Other uses:

Se planter – To make an error or miss the desired objective. i.e. FAIL.
Se faire planter par quelqu’un (or “Se faire poser un lapin”) – You’re up to your 5th glass of rose, I don’t think she’s coming… The good old no show.

 Mobile app "Raisin"

Lost, far from home and thirsty? Don’t settle for dodgy food and industrial wine… use your Smart Phone!
A team of dedicated benevolent natural wine lovers are working to bring natural wine possibilities to your Smart Phone. They have developed a mobile app called “Raisin” (Grape in French). You can open it up and search for bars, cellars and restaurants serving natural wines in your vicinity. And much more…
With your help, Virtuous Vine will be developing the Australian database for the Raisin app.

Please get in touch if you would like more information or would like to be registered in the app.

To be registered, at least 30% of an establishment’s wine offering must be “natural”.



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