The Spiritual Verticality of Biodynamic Agriculture
Lecture held at Harvard Divinity School - March 31st, 2016
As part of the Conference The Spirit of Sustainable Agriculture
The spirit of biodynamic agriculture is to be sought in the imaginative consciousness of the human being
who sets his artistic capacities to the service of the becoming of the Earth.
This presentation will take the form of dialogues between a Biodynamist, a Musician and a Eurythmist. A 3x3 perspective of the subject matter allows the participants to alternately unfold their respective fields of study,
to weave a picture of the moral action/spiritual verticality, of biodynamic agriculture.
A short eurythmy performance will conclude the lecture, rendering perceptible the working analogy:
Biodynamic agriculture is to Agriculture what Eurythmy is to Music.
Organic and Biodynamic Winegrowing Conference
New Zealand - 2015
Philippe Armenier gave a beautiful overview of the sun’s path in relation to the seasons and the timing of biodynamic applications. His reference to the form of the vine leaf in relation to the movement of planet Mercury and the rhythm of the Sun was fascinating.
Nan Helgeland, proprietor of Martian Ranch and Vineyard (in Santa Barbara County) has announced that Philippe Armenier will be the new winemaker for the 3,000+ case winery.
1996 Châteauneuf-du-Pape 'Cuvee Classique' -- Domaine de Marcoux
One of our favorite producers in Chateauneuf du Pape is Domaine de Marcoux. The six foot, six inch tall Philippe Armenier may be the tallest person we visit in France on our yearly trips to the Rhone Valley. His wines (Cuvee Classique and Cuvee Vieilles Vignes in red, Cuvee Classique in white -- all biodynamic farming) are among the best Syrah/Grenache blends found anywhere in the world. This 1996 Classique is no exception. Rich, peppery and spicy, balanced, and more-than-reasonably priced considering the quality.
The famous wine writer Robert Parker has touted Domaine de Marcoux for quite some time… 'Philippe Armenier is making some of the most compelling wines of the region… yields are kept very low and, not surprisingly, the quality is exceptionally high.' It's interesting to note that the Armenier families roots can be traced back over 500 years within Chateauneuf du Pape.
Biodynamics and Hanky-Panky
By Alice Feiring
The Feiring Line
Philippe Armenier pleaded, Please don't write a hocus-pocus article.
I gave him my word. But when I recently wrote about him for Time magazine I had to fight my editor who, yes, wanted an article about magic. When he found out that Armenier the biodynamic wine consultant guides his clients in the fine art of burying dung filled horns on the autumnal equinox, teaches them to unearth them at the vernal, it was hard for him to resist the hank-panky bait.
As biodynamics catches on in the states, Armenier is a busier man. He sold off Domaine Marcoux in Chateauneuf de Pape (which is biodynamic) to his sister. He moved to California four years ago. He had one client - get this -Jess Jackson (of Kendall-Jackson) in Biodynamics. That deal fell apart but others---big names--Randal Grahm, Archery Summit, Beaux Frre, Grace Family Vineyards, Beckmen and Ggrich Hills.) signed on.
Armenier not just a farmer but a winemaker. This sets him apart from Alan York the other consultant in town.
Forget about hocus-pocus,with Philippe you won't get any hanky-panky, no intervention like yeast, enzyme, too much oak, tannin or any other modern wine making tricks. His is biodynamic and real winemaking. Be careful, they don't always go together.
But the practice of biodynamic winemaking is much more than its magical trappings. It gets results. Many of the world's greatest domains (like Burgundy's Leroy and Laflaive) swear it healed their soil and vines after years of chemical mistreatment. And if some treatments with some strange sounding ingredients helps? So what. Whatever works.
Biodynamics was the invention of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, (1861-1925), who founded the Anthroposophical Society and the Waldorf schools. Some people mumble that Steiner was too cozy with the Nazi party. Last summer I was in Germany and visited and tasted with the wonderfully eccentric Reinhard Lowenstein of Heymann-Lowenstein in his upper Mosel winery, (Reinhard plays music to his fermenting wine, that sort of thing). I asked him why he doesn't go biodynamic as many of his practices has a spiritual dimension. He answered with a scowl, I don't want anything to do with Steiner, that Nazi. Hmm. This from a German? I took it to heart. Never the less, whatever the truth is about Steiner's alliances, (most do agree, at least, that Steiner really did sound like a nut case) more and more, I find that the wines I like are farmed and made biodynamically.
It's sort of like how I got to Armenier in the first place. As you all know, I have little tolerance for American wines in their current sappy, soda-like, sugary, oaky, obviously floozy form. Wells Guthrie's who makes wine under the Copain label, however, are good. In fact, I really liked a syrah he makes from the Cailloux and Coccinelle vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington. After tasting the wine, I knew I wanted to meet the man who grew the grapes.
So, I go to Walla Walla and meet with Christophe Baron, a French guy (big bouncy personality, a little like a frisky puppy) who moved to Washington, fell in love with soil with rocks the size of softballs and started to make wines under the Cayuse label.
He planted his grape vines from cuttings, not from clonal selection. His wines, from are really delicious. Yeah, they're American big wines with lots of fruit but there's also mineral in there. There's interest. There's complexity. These are not one trick pony wines.
Now, last week, the New York Times came out saying that Christophe is the only winemaker in the state of Washington who can make syrah. This may or may not be true (in any case, it is almost true) but don't you think it's important to have included that Christophe's is the only biodynamic, naturally made wine in the state? And he uses Armenier as a consultant. I think it is not only important but a real disservice as an omission. On the other hand, maybe they just didn't know. So, I, in my new role of the kinder, gentler wine writer, forgive Eric his omission.
Jamie Goode's Online Wine Magazine
Winderlea Vineyard and Winery
Philippe Armenier is considered to be one of the foremost practitioners or Biodynamic farming in the world.
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