Cereals planted in the Vineyard mid-rows (month of November)
When visiting Chambert it is clear to see that it is environment that is the heart of the Chambert’s exceptional vineyards. The location of Chambert is naturally beautiful, and its charm and tranquility are inspiring.
All the work on the property is carried out with respect of the land and encourages the pure expression of Malbec. Biodynamics is used to achieve balance in life (the estate, the vines, the wine). Wine from Château de Chambert is authentic because it is true to its terroir.
The Folly of Our Civilization
The world has gone mad: in order to increase production, nature is no longer respected, even destroyed. To understand the evidence for a Biodynamic approach and the urgency of returning to a world that is respectful of the planet, watch this edifying video
What is in wine? Have you ever wondered what are you drinking when having a glass of wine?!
Organic agriculture, if we stick to the classic definition, consists mostly of cultivating without the use of synthetic chemicals.
This is not a vision but a working protocol. That is why at Chambert, organic agriculture was not satisfactory to meet our expectations. It was a step but not an end in itself. It lacked an overall vision to find deep harmony between the vine and its environment and is why Chambert has embraced Biodynamics since 2007.
What is Biodynamics ?
Every living thing - plant, animal and human - gives the best of itself when it feels good, safe and stress free. Once you understand this, you understand the philosophy of biodynamics. Biodynamics seeks harmony between the vineyard and its environment and takes nature as a whole. The soil becomes the most important component in this type of agriculture: all life on earth is dependent on the first meter of soil. The first meter of soil is rich in humus which took thousands of years of micro-biological activity and dense micro-abundant organisms to develop. These micro-organisms work tirelessly to produce the organic matter that plants need to grow and it is critical not to disrupt or weaken them.
Conventional agriculture has destroyed most of these microscopic populations with fungicides, insecticides and herbicides. Biodynamics allows a return to a state of healthy soil, a process which can take a decade or more.
The Birth of Biodynamics
The basics of biodynamic agriculture were introduced at a conference organized by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925) for European farmers in Germany in June 1924.
He explained that science should not forget all the agricultural achievements of our ancestors going back 8,000 years. In 1924 some farmers were already raising questions about the use of chemical fertilizers produced in quantity during the First World War. They were already seeing that the quality of their diet had deteriorated. In his lecture, Steiner warned against the evils of cattle feed containing animal tissue which can cause a fatal neurodegenerative disease known as ‘mad cow disease’. 70 years later the mad cow scandal demonstrates the evils of large-scale cattle feed with animal tissue. This is just one example of the issues he addressed in his dialogue with farmers.
Details of Biodynamics
Biodynamic farming has much in common with organic farming, such as the non-use of synthetic products in the fight against disease. Biodynamic farming does use copper, an important fungicide, at doses limited to 15 kg per hectare for 5 years (average of 3 kg per year), or less than half used in organic farming. The reason is simple: Copper is a fungicide and when it is leached from the leaves by rainfall and enters into the soil, it impacts the microflora by killing soil fungi. To reduce the amount of copper, herbal teas and extractions of plants (e.g horsetail, nettle, willow) are incorporated as treatments against mildew.
Respecting the rhythms of the day, the year and the lunar cycle is essential. Astral rhythms are also taken into account and the use of the lunar and planetary calendar is a tool to help guide the best time to work in the vineyards. Science has proven the influence of the moon on the water of the seas and oceans via tides. Plants are made up of 80-95% water; as with tides, they are also influenced by the moon, though the proportions are different and the result is less visible to the naked eye. Sap also reacts to the lunar cycle: it tends to drop when the moon is setting and rise when the moon is ascendant. We use this tendency in considering how size may increase or reduce the vigor of the vine for the following year.
Biodynamics is used to achieve balance in life: above ground, a healthy vine, robust and capable of facing natures assaults and underground with a soil that is rich in essential microorganisms that breakdown material in the soil assimilable by the vine. Fertilizer in the form of compost feeds the microbial populations which promote such decompositon. Several times a year we fertilize with Horn Manure (called "500") which enriches the soil bacteria and fungi. The "500" is produced by filling a cow horn with cow dung and then burying it for the winter During the winter microbiological activity around the pile is intense and in the spring the cow dung in the horns is turned into humus rich in fungi and bacteria (comparable to our own intestinal microflora.)
To help the vine grow steadily and capture the sun for photosynthesis, preparation 501 is used and is just like a calcium supplement to encourage strong bones. There are various plant based preparations (502 through to 508) that act like natural herbal medicines to strengthen the natural functioning of the vines.