Caroline Hurry
Caroline Hurry

Discerning and observant epicureans, take note: Organic, bio dynamic wine is on a roll

It’s 12.30 pm and I’m on my fourth glass of wine. I am, to be fair, in the Blu Bird Centre and such behaviour is de rigueur when you’re sampling organic, biodynamic, wines from Avondale “Terra Est Vita” Estate. Picked every 25 years when the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars – or thereabouts –Avondale’s wines are not just delicious but ‘super-charged’ with the teachings of Rudolf Steiner.

Johnathan explains the finer points of biodynamic viticulture as Sawubona editor Ingrid Wood takes notes.
Johnathan Grieve explains the finer points of biodynamic viticulture as Sawubona editor Ingrid Wood takes notes.

Avondale’s Johnathan Grieve, harnesses the natural rhythms of the lunar cycle and seasons to encourage the vine to bear fruit.  A dab hand with the dowsing rods, Johnathan also uses pendulums and astronomy, harvesting, planting, and sowing when the moon is in the ascendant (when a plant’s sap is rising). Apparently when the moon is waning, the vitality is in the roots.

Michel Morand, of Bistro Michel and Ian Manley, bespoke perception manager enjoy a glass of Avondale's Armilla
Michel Morand, of Bistro Michel and Ian Manley, bespoke perception wizard, enjoy a glass of Avondale’s Armilla

Bio-dynamic production recognises the rhythms of the cosmos, the effect of the ocean tides and the gravitational pull of the moon moving the sap in plants – and organic vineyards are great for biodiversity. Johanathan Grieve and other biodynamic producers believe air signs (such as Aquarius) influence flowering, fire signs impact on fruit, water signs affect leaves, and earth signs work their powers on root vegetables.

Anna Montali of is fascinated by all biodynamic wine-making revelations
Anna Montali is fascinated by all biodynamic wine-making revelations.

“The vines grow in soil that’s ‘alive’ with a healthy population of worms and soil bacteria,” says Johanathan.  “The ‘healthy vines develop better resistance to disease and go on to produce fruit for years to come.’

By contrast, the soils of vineyards in which sprays are used can be almost ‘dead’, requiring increasing inputs of artificial fertiliser.

The result? Pure, unadulterated, deliciousness – especially when teamed with Michel Morand’s haute comfort cooking. Combining local traditions with French techniques, reduced stocks, and a thorough hand, his copious menu is a journey of culinary creativity paired with Avondale wines, all dishes providing finesse and elegance in homely portions.

I’m welcomed with a bubbling flute of Armilla, followed by Anima (Chenin Blanc) to go with Mauritian seabass carpaccio, then glass of Cyclus (a light, refreshing white blend) to wash down chicken breast served with a saffron sauce and spuds.

Johnathan uses his pendulum in the viticulture of the Samsara (Syrah) a 2007 wine that brings a mixed lentil salad with pork to life, while La Luna (a Bordeaux blend) works perfectly with Daube Bourguignon, beef stew braised with carrots and red wine. Grana Padano cheese served with a Navitas, (meaning energy in Latin), precedes a glass of Camissa (Blanc de Noir) that provides a fitting finale for the Apple tart Normande.

Avondale wines are sold in the more specialised bottle stores or you can order direct from the farm. I’ll drink to that!