Written by Marie Servagnat on November 9 th, 2013
The organic labeled products are becoming more and more numerous on the market. Whether in the fields of health, clothing and food (artisans and distribution giants), nothing escapes this desire of brands and these consumer needs, which change and evolve alongside the subjects of news and awareness of environmental and human protection and sustainable development.
Champagne is no exception to this growing desire. Shifted from "fashion" to "necessity", this behavior also allows us to see more clearly in the methods of making our favorite bubble drink and the rise of more organic bubbles.
Organic wine is a wine produced from grapes from organic farming, and according to the official definition, it is therefore an agricultural production that does not use synthetic chemicals in order to best respect the soils and terroirs of Champagne.
Biodynamic Wine • Bio-dynamic agriculture has existed since the 1920s, taking into account the relationships between natural elements, to heal the Earth and regenerate the soils. Bio-dynamic farmers, thanks to manure and / or preparations based on medicinal plants and minerals, work in this direction […], to respect the rhythms of the Earth and the cosmos.
The organic field: just a new fad ?
If we take into account all the constraints of quality viticulture in a difficult climate, it is undeniable that chemistry has always been of great help. Although Bordeaux mixture may still be used, the laws of the markets and of capitalism have also brought changes, not without consequences.
Research by academics and science has also placed Champagne among important issues. Even though official organizations had been worried for several years about soil pollution, many producers regularly demonstrated that "organic viticulture" (or "biodynamic viticulture") was not only viable, but gives a quality grape without being free. negative consequence but a new challenge, a return to basics.
Ever more concerned winegrowers
Organic Champagne is not a deception and it is good to look at those who are already certified or who choose to work in this direction, without necessarily being the subject of a label.
It is obvious that an "organic labeling" (Labels: AB, Demeter, Biodyvin, Nature et Progrès) exists and that it can (must) be a guarantee of quality.
Obtaining it displayed (not always easy to obtain) should not leave champagne houses aside, those that work in organic / common sense, without necessarily claiming it. The existing labels are only concerned with the aging of the grapes! And not winemaking !
This means in theory that the winemaker can therefore use any type of product during his vinification. This is where the will and conscience of the winegrower is played out, who wants to obtain a top organic product. In a desire to harmonize the organic label across Europe, from June 2010, a new label will be affixed. The European Commission has therefore tackled the issue of organic winemaking in order to establish complete specifications and lead to the definition of a true "organic wine", from the cultivation of reason to its vinification. European rules have been under discussion since the end of June 2009 between the 27 Member States within the framework of the Standing Committee on Organic Agriculture.
Many winegrowers have been working in biodynamics for a long time without however being under the yoke of the label. An important export product, champagne must meet more and more a demand for champagne made from grapes without weedkillers or chemicals.
Organic champagne : a quality label ?
Today it is easy to see (and the Internet has a lot to do with it) that winegrowers are showing more interest, even if the number of “organic” farms is not yet spectacular, its number is still clear. increase for two or three years.
Soil treated with chemicals does not remain unscathed and in the Champagne region, years of product spillage from urban landfills, especially in Paris, have also raised awareness among wine growers.
The excess of chemical weedkillers sprayed by helicopter is unfortunately an almost normal operation. But fortunately, conversion to organic is gaining ground and showcasing concerned champagne houses and valuing work that is not that recent.
Let us recall in passing that a society in which pseudoscience and esoteric fantasies are sometimes considered to be reality, let us not forget to check the arguments put forward when making an organic or biodynamic champagne purchase.
The best solution is still to trust your tastes, because anyone could (and is entitled) to ask the question whether a properly controlled study has been done to compare biodynamic and non-biodynamic wines with each other. One thing is certain, a good quality wine can be recognized, whether it is organic or not. Also, the price is not always the sign, the indicator. Organic, biodynamic or neither, a champagne wine must be made with respect and art. Visit this site of the Serge Mathieu vineyard with a nice introduction on the theme of organic “To Bio or not to Bio ? ".
Some pioneers ...
For example, at the same time as the crisis and this rise of organic products in champagne, Carrefour regularly offers champagnes for less than € 16 and already endorses two organic cuvées signed Fleury. Also, the Cora company in turn converted to champagne with grapes from organic farming under its own brand Charles d´Harleville. The skin of this novelty adopts the classic Charles d´Harleville label, but with the addition of the AB logo. On the other hand, this organic champagne is positioned at £ 5 more expensive than the standard brut cuvée of the same brand, i.e. £ 19.95.
Among the pioneers and concerned winegrowers, we find: Maison Beaufort with its first organic champagne in 1974 - but also Maisons Bedel, Gautherot, Jean-Pierre Fleury, Pascal Agrapart, Larmandier-Bernier, Franck Pascal, Catherine and Bruno Michel, Erick De Sousa, Drappier; or the reconversions (evolutions) of certain houses such as Leclerc-Briant or Pommery; or like the Champagne House De Sousa and its recent well-deserved “organic” label !
Organic, Biodynamic ?
It is therefore with full goodwill that we must discover organic champagnes and make up their own mind, also discovering the quality of the work of the winegrower who is hidden behind his desire to make a good champagne in harmony with his environment.
It is also a way of ensuring that the adventure continues and that future generations continue to be able to savor more and more champagne bubbles - with bio-moderation of course! And to the question Drink organic champagne or not? I say yes (for both) ! May it be good and done with respect !