tasting

Biodynamics at Alois Lageder: voodoo or future?

Mention Rudolf Steiner’s name in a group of scientists and be prepared for a load of criticism. The Austrian born intellectual linked the spiritual world with science and was active in many fields, such as medicine, architecture, education and agriculture. His thoughts and ideas were quite provoking at the beginning of the 20th century, and even in today’s world they are viewed by some as absolute nonsense. For every research paper in favour of Steiner’s thinking, there are multiple scientific papers that prove the opposite. If you cannot measure it, it doesn’t exist?

Looking at his widespread applied theories today, you could say he was ahead of his time. His biodynamic approach to agriculture has been implemented all over the world, also in viticulture. Romanée-Conti, Nicolas Joly, LeRoy, Alvaro Palacios, Weinbach, Ostertag, Zind-Humbrecht, Pontet-Canet, Felton Road, Artadi, Grgich. All world renowned domaines that work biodynamically according to Steiner’s philosophy.

So, there must be something that works for them. But what? Together with a group of Dutch winetraders, I spent a day with Clemens Lageder at another iconic domaine that works biodynamically, Alois Lageder in Italy’s Alto Adige to find out more. (by the way, the accent is on the 2nd syllable: LaGEder)

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Can craft beer age?

And there I was, wine aficionado surrounded by craft beer lovers on a hot spring evening at Café Servaas. The occasion? A craft beer tasting on the evolution of beer through ageing.

Hosted by Bas Schampers from the Bourgondische Bierkelder, a Certified Diploma Beer Sommelier which is apparently an internationally recognized title requiring study abroad in beer nation Austria.

It turned out to be an interesting evening.

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Orange wine: let it grow on you

Gems, fruit, chemical elements and even a fish are used to describe the colour of wine. I still have to taste the wacky Spanish blue wine adventure, but something tells me I probably never will. There’s a whole category of wines out there that so far hasn’t reached a bigger audience: orange wines.

Granted, it looks like morning pee after a heavy night on the town, but this so deserves to be enjoyed, taking you off the beaten track. Here’s why it got me all excited…

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Italy’s most underestimated grape?

Whenever we go on a family holiday, I encourage my daughters to join me in a winery visit. Given their age, 10 & 5, obviously not to enrich their palates but to get a sense of place and feel the enthusiasm and proudness with which owners often speak about their land and products. For this reason, I always try to hook up with small-scale family owned wineries.

Last summer, the centre of Italy was our destination, so plenty of options to choose from. Tuscany would have been the obvious choice as Italy’s cultural heart and Sangiovese heartland, but the thought of queueing tourists on the autostrada Chiantigiana made us decide to turn left and head for le Marche. This region in the eastern side of Italy is still rather unknown, probably because of its famous neighbours Tuscany and Umbria. The Marche region has beautiful beaches, endless rolling hills and loads of history. It’s one of those holiday dilemma’s: once you find a lovely spot you would like to share it with the world, but at the same time wanting to keep it to yourself to leave it unspoilt.

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First date with Azerbaijan wine

When talking wine, most people think of Western-Europe when referring to Old World, yet few seem to know that further east lies an even older world when it comes to wine growing and making. Forget Greece or Italy, grapes have already been cultivated a few thousand years ago next to the Caucasus Mountains.

Although the first viticultural activities are said to date back to an area which is now northern Iran, Caucasian countries like Georgia and Armenia surely contributed to the birth of serious wine making. Dramatic landscapes, planted with indigenous grapes carrying unpronounceable names like Mtsvane or Rkatsiteli, where winemakers still use ancient vinification techniques (e.g. qvevri, large clay vessels buried in the ground, meant for fermentation and maturation of grapes, even for whites resulting in unusual tannic white wine).

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