Biodynamic wine practices are used globally, from Barbaresco, Italy to Sonoma, California. What are these practices exactly? Biodynamic wineries use eco-friendly fertilizer, employ environmentally conscious farming techniques and follow a different calendar, to name a few of their methods.
Not all of the wines we recommend are certified biodynamic as the certification process is both lengthy and expensive. But all the bottles below are made at wineries employing biodynamic ideals.
Alain Voge 2017 Les Vieilles Vignes (Cornas); $85, 96 points. Old vines averaging 60 years and long oak maturation (20% in new oak) lend spicy, sweet notes of cinnamon toast and clove to deeply concentrated black plum and blackberry flavors in this wine. It’s a creamy Syrah, balanced by tart cassis acidity and ripe but firm, lingering tannins. Delicious already, the wine should show even better from 2022 and improve through 2037. Citadel Trading. —Anna Lee C. Iijima
Horsepower 2017 High Contrast Vineyard Syrah (Walla Walla Valley); $121, 96 points. The aromas explode from the glass, with notes of fire pit, potpourri, black olive, wet stone, dried porcini and stone. The palate is sumptuous, layered, elegant and intensely flavorful, showing abundant savory notes. A lingering black olive and earthy finish caps it off. Best after 2025. Cellar Selection. —Sean Sullivan
Dr. Bürklin-Wolf 2017 Forster Pechstein G.G. Riesling (Pfalz); $120, 95 points. Hints of smoke and charred earth juxtapose tart green apple and yellow plum in this unusually slim but deeply complex Grosses Gewächs. It’s a spicy, laser-edged wine anchored by a reverberating spine of acidity. Still a bit tight in youth but should improve and expand beautifully through 2035. Verity Wine Partners. Cellar Selection. —A.I.
M. Chapoutier 2016 Le Méal White (Hermitage); $190, 95 points. Initial notes of smoke and earth dissipate with aeration to reveal perfumed notes of quince, ginger and pear. It’s a rich, expansive white made from 100-year-old Marsanne grapes grown on the chalk and alluvial soils of the Le Méal vineyard. In youth, it offers pristine orchard fruit and spice, but it’s a wine that’s better left till 2022 at least. It will reward cellaring for decades. 300 cases produced. Terlato Wines International. Cellar Selection. —A.I.
Yangarra 2017 King’s Wood Shiraz (McLaren Vale); $50, 95 points. From a single block biodynamically grown on a cool site in a cool vintage, this Shiraz, which sees 25% whole bunch, is aged in large French foudre. The result is an extraordinarily precise and complex wine, it’s only downfall being an unfortunately heavy bottle. Notes of raspberry, plum, iodine, damp earth, and chocolate and spice (neither from oak) are cinched with sinewy tannins and lifted by crystalline acidity. Manages an exacting and difficult tightrope walk of power and generosity with restraint and elegance. Drink now, or cellar until 2030—at least. Sovereign Wine Imports. —Christina Pickard
Brick House 2017 Evelyn’s Pinot Noir (Ribbon Ridge); $70, 94 points. Evelyn’s is the estate’s reserve-level, best barrel selection. It’s an all-senses potpourri with aromas of berry, sassafras and cinnamon, plus ripe fruit flavors of strawberry, marionberry and plum. More highlights continue with sassafras, coffee and baking spices. It’s a riot of mixed and delicious components, beautifully balanced, and showing exceptional length and detail. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt
Rippon 2016 Mature Vine Lake Wanaka Pinot Noir (Central Otago); $62, 94 points. From one of New Zealand’s most celebrated wineries, located on the pristine shores of Lake Wanaka, this Pinot is made for the long haul. Brambly fruit and spice center on an earthy, spicy core. Dense, nearly impenetrable on the palate, a powerful line of taut, fine tannins cinch the fruit and spice. While just starting to show some age, this remains an austere but laser-focused wine that requires patience, but should reward in spades with time in cellar. Drink through 2035. Wine Dogs Imports LLC. —C.P.
Soter 2018 Mineral Springs Ranch Pinot Noir (Yamhill-Carlton); $75, 94 points. The biodynamically farmed grapes bring layered and detailed flavors. Raspberry purée adds intensity to the fruit, with accents of toasted grain and lemon. Some 30% of the ferment included whole clusters, and 40% of the wine was barreled in new French oak. The long, drying finish adds highlights of chamomile tea. Editors’ Choice. —Paul Gregutt
Domaine Anderson 2017 Dach Vineyard Pinot Noir (Anderson Valley); $55, 93 points. Distinctive earthy, leafy, tea-like aromas and rich black-cherry flavors give this medium-bodied, tiny-production wine plenty to appreciate. It is well balanced, concentrated and a bit tannic, which adds a nice bit of grip to the texture. Best through 2027. Cellar Selection. —Jim Gordon
Rivetto 2017 Marcarini (Barbaresco); $30, 93 points. Wild berry, camphor, fragrant blue flower and tilled soil aromas mingle with whiffs of star anise. Made with organically farmed grapes, the taut palate offers dried cherry, licorice and tobacco framed in tightly wound, close-grained tannins. Drink 2022–2029. Wilson Daniels Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —Kerin O’Keefe
Rockpile Winery 2018 Rockpile Ridge Vineyard Zinfandel (Rockpile); $49, 93 points. This estate wine is among the last picked by the producer due to the high-elevation vineyard. It tastes of blackberry, cherry, nutmeg and cola, with underlying notes of dried herb and crushed rock. The texture is velvety, with a lasting chewiness. —Virginie Boone
Emidio Pepe 2014 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo; $115, 92 points. Reminiscent of running through an orchard in the peak of autumn, this offers nostalgic aromas of sweet hay with ripe apples and pears. The palate is rounded in feel and concentrated in these same tones, with a revitalizing wet limestone streak from start to finish. Polaner Selections. —Alexander Peartree
Solminer 2018 Nebullite Sparkling Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley); $42, 92 points. Sparkling red wines don’t always work, but this herbaceous blend of 72% Syrah, 27% Grenache and 1% Riesling succeeds in spicy ways. Aromas of cracked pepper, bright black raspberry, thyme and marjoram lead into a boysenberry, peppercorn and dried herb palate. There’s tannic tension and a great mousse to boot. Editors’ Choice. —Matt Kettmann