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Biodynamic Whining

Every now and again my Twitter obsession bears interesting fruit, and last night was one of those times. Having answered a randomly seen tweet by my online acquaintance @thirstforwine, known in the Real World as Robert McIntosh, I ended up in a cellar under Berry Brothers and Rudd with a bunch of people rather more knowledgeable than me in the ways of wine. And Drew, who even I may have beaten on wine knowledge.

The plan was to taste some biodynamic wines in conjunction with an online tasting broadcast via TasteLive and Twitter. While it was a nice excuse to stick a bunch of wine down my ever thirsty gullet, it also does sort of tie in with my interest of non-local event participation, that I’ve burbled about before.

I was vaguely aware of the concept of biodynamic agriculture, and think it mainly a pile of batshit craziness inspired by veritable nutter Rudolf Steiner, but it does seem to lead to some nice wine. This was one of the first topics of discussion that popped up – is it the biodynamic processes that lead to good wine, or is it that the people treading the path of biodynamism have to pay more care and attention to the production of their wine and thus produce better ones? In the end the room came down on the inevitable in-between point of view and while I don’t think that wine tasting days (post bottling) should be chosen based on a lunar cycle I can see some benefits in the more agricultural elements of the pseudo-religion.

The first wine we tried was a white, which immediately left me with little idea of what was going on. It was a Macon, which I now know how to pronounce, and I rather enjoyed it, which was unexpected. Very crisp smelling with some nice sharp fruits but then quite big on the taste, and bigger as air got to it. This led to discussion as to whether white wine should be decanted – general decision was ‘Yes’ as long as it could be drunk before it warmed up too much. There was a caveat that a decanter of white looks distressingly wee-like, but this was definitely out-weighed by the development of flavour in this one as it breathed.

Next up was the first of our two reds, this one fromĀ Vacqueyras, a region that I’d never heard of and have since had difficulty spelling. We were told that the maker of this particular wine had been moved to try biodynamic wine making after his sick daughter had been cured by homeopathy. This did not fill me with hope for his wine. I was, as with the white, pleasantly surprised – it was the most “interesting” wine of the night. Not my favourite but an assault on the taste buds, with lots of spice on the palate combined with a bit of fruit. The word bandied around a lot was ‘rustic’ and with a pile of tannins the twitterfolk made comments about the sahara. It didn’t change much as it breathed and we left it for a bit of food, which did definitely improve it, with the fats from some chorizo and ham helping to restrain it on the tongue.

Last wine of the evening was the most anticipated by the more knowledgeable in the room – L’As from Terasses du Larzac. This one was decanted and had been breathing away since before we arrived in the room and it was quite nice immediately after pouring, continuing to develop as we chatted around the table. It was the bigger of the two reds and that bigness helped soften out any rough edges, unlike with the Vacqueyras. It was fruity and fully flavoured and very pleasant, but to my surprise my overall favourite of the evening was the Macon that we tried first. It’s not often that I actively like a white wine and this is the first since the last tasting I went to (at Carluccio’s – a Planeta very oaked Chardonnay which may still be my favourite white of all time), which suggests that I’m just rubbish at selecting whites for myself…

Anyways, the event was pretty good, with a bit of banter in the room and the twitter feed both feeding into the conversation and giving another place for those of us in the cellar to talk. Drew’s rather large following piped up with a few interesting questions, from vegan friendly fining methods to defining what ‘corked’ really is, and the other groups tasting around the country gave their impressions, both similar and different to those of our group. Overall it seemed to work.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

It was a very different feeling event to the other larger scale twitter ‘happenings’ that I’ve been involved with and I think the scale itself was what helped with that – the flow of tweets was such that it was easily viewable and that slower flow meant that there was less swamping of other people’s twitter streams, as has happened with the various events that Graham Linehan organised. I had one of my contacts wondering what was going on and pledge to join in next time, just as with @badmovieclub, and didn’t have anyone tell me I was stupid for doing this kind of thing through Twitter, which was nice. I’m still not certain that Twitter is the ideal venue for this kind of thing, but with the bleed over into the more public conversation space that you wouldn’t get with IRC and the public’s current love affair with tweeting I suspect this won’t be my last foray into this kind of thing.

My main thing to take away from the evening though is how nice it is to see people trying things out. I wouldn’t have considered Berry Brothers to be the most cutting edge of companies, being an old and established business based in an oldy worldy part of London in a old industry. However, they have a blog, a related Twitter account (that isn’t just an RSS feed…), a nice looking website, and a team that try things like working with TasteLive and Rob to play with social media and this new fangled internet. It makes good business sense and it’s good to see more people realising that.


To organise the tweets we had two hashtags – #ttl for the general Twitter Taste Live group and #bbr for those of us in the cellar at Berry Brothers, with the plan being that we cellary tasters would use both. As ever these didn’t get well respected, but clicking on those links should give you some idea of the flow of online conversation during the evening.

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