Reyneke Sauvignon Blanc 2009 is all ripe tropical fruit, broad in structure with soft acidity. It tastes like no other Sauvignon Blanc you’ve had before because it’s made like no other Sauvginon Blanc you’ve had before – this Stellenbosch property is certified biodynamic by official body Demeter.
Owner Johan Reyneke admits that a lot of consumers view biodynamics as “way out” and he’s certainly not following this approach for superficial marketing reasons. For him, biodynamics is premised on the notion that reality always and necessarily exceeds human knowledge. “Science is the dominant paradigm and while we can’t negate its worth, it tends to break things down into its smallest parts. We lose sight of the bigger picture,” he says.
A key example for him when it comes to viticulture is leaf-roll virus. The most important vector in the spread of the disease is the mealie bug. Conventional thinking in controlling the virus is reductive in that it seeks to eliminate the mealybug and thereby stop the spread of the disease. Biodynamics, on the other, takes the view that everything that is alive deserves respect. Introduce dandelions into the vineyard, and the mealy bug is drawn to these as their preferred food source rather than the vines. “If the vine is the only plant left alive on a specific site, then obviously the bugs choose that…”
Biodynamics is about a spiritual rather than scientific relation to nature. “It’s peasant wisdom, which has been marginalised for political reasons,” says Reyneke. Those with vested interests in commercial agriculture want to dismiss it but there are traces in language such as “holy cow”, “mother nature” and “lunatic” that suggest we use to understand life in this way. If organic is about sustainable farming, then biodynamics takes this one step further and aims to be self-sufficient. “Our concept of value is too tied up with money. Things have inherent value by virtue of being alive.”