&  Interesting Links........

The Bio-Mat -- an amazing health tool, promoting balanced biorhythms, energy flow and well-being.  Meticulously crafted of semi-precious stones (amythyst, turqoirse) and natural fibers.  For more information or demonstration, go to:  http://www.biomatnc.thebiomatcompany.com/
or email me at:   b-e@biomatnc.com
Beatriz Vidal is a painter and children's book illustrator from Argentina, who lives part of  each year in New York. Beatriz and I worked on a couple of stories together, including Federico and the Gift of the Magi. Her sense of color and design is bold and magical.
      For a look at her ravishing images, go to:

           More useful links:    

           If you like cheese:  sign up for cheese expert Janet Fletcher's newsletter, Planet Cheese:  http://www.janetfletcher.com/newslettersignup         

           http://simmer2sizzle.com/    Deborah Miller's blog is  one of the liveliest in the Triangle!

           http://www.culinaryartscollege.org/     a website cataloging culinary schools around the U.S.

          John Mariani's  Virtual Gourmet   newsletter:  If a cool new spot opens anywhere in the U.S., John has likely dined there--

                                                         Check out his lively newsletter so you'll know where to go!

           http://grapelines.com   Louis Marmon's wine blog

          Appellation America    --  for news about regional American and California wines, see this comprehensive site
                                                                               also Articles & Wine Reviews by B.E.

www.hdhwine.com    --   Hart Davis Hart Wine Co., a wine auction house based in Chicago, also operates a retail website.  "I like to say we sell drinkable wines," says President Paul Hart. "A majority of them have some bottle age and are ready to drink, after being stored under ideal conditions."
                 If you're looking for a particular wine or vintage--check out this site.

Collectors and Value Seekers:  Current and upcoming auctions at HDH are offering some excellent buys--worth checking out for gift-giving. Click on the link above.

                      www.patriciawells.com   --   Pat Wells cooking classes in Paris and Provence     
                      Sally's Place    --  wine and food, including B.E.'s articles  

B.E. article:

Cork Report

Metro Magazine
February 2009

Forces Of Universe Improve Wines: Biodynamics Catching On

By Barbara Ensrud

February is the “heartfelt” month. Wine is healthy for the heart, as we know, in moderation. Healthy vines produce even healthier wines — more honest, more balanced, free of additives — and they taste good!
The wave of vineyards worldwide going organic is major, verging on tsunamic. Once we were leery of wines from organic grapes — and, admittedly, early ones seemed a little off-kilter. As top profile winemakers turned to organically grown grapes, however, quality and flavor began to shine. Taste Robert Sinskey Pinot Noir, Bonterra Viognier, Frey Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blancs from Frog’s Leap or Patianna, Coppola’s Rubicon and dozens of others — many exceptional, as their critical ratings and awards confirm.
But there is an even more intriguing, somewhat mysterious, definitely controversial move in wine-growing and wine-making that is beyond organic: biodynamics.
The difference: organic vineyards are farmed without using pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers.
Biodynamics takes organic principles further than simply do no harm. Through labor-intensive practices, biodynamic growers actually replenish the soil with natural organic preparations that — here’s the somewhat mystical and controversial part — attract cosmic influences that unleash the life forces in the earth and the plants. “So the earth may be healed,” wrote Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the Austrian philosopher, scientist and visionary who laid down biodynamic principles for farming in the early 20th century, paving the way for the eco-movement in this one.       

Some of the techniques do seem a little bizarre:
• stuffing a cowhorn with cow manure or ground quartz and burying it at the equinox for six months
• fermenting yarrow flowers in a deer’s bladder
• adding the juices of chamomile flowers or dandelion to compost
• spraying horsetail tea on vine foliage to prevent fungus

These and other biodynamic “preps” are mixed with spring water, stirred vigorously for one hour to intensify their potency, then sprayed on the soil, enhancing root systems and soil fertility — in effect boosting the immune system of the vine to better withstand onslaught from pests, weeds and disease. Sheep are kept to mow cover crops in spring, their little feet also aerating the soil. Nesting boxes for bluebirds and purple swallowtails help control insects.                    
Astonishingly, it appears to work — growers find not only stronger vines, but also positive effects on wine aromas and flavors. “Biodynamics deals with how we might seek to harmonize our farming practices with the subtle forces of the universe,” said innovative winemaker Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon, “following the astronomical calendar, availing ourselves of free cosmic fertilizer, you might say.”
It all might seem a bit “woo-woo” except for the fact that some of the most prestigious wine estates in the world have embraced biodynamic practices — Domaines Leroy, Leflaive, Dujac, Comte Lafon in Burgundy, Zind-Humbrecht, the top name in Alsace, M. Chapoutier in the Rhône and numerous others. Biodynamic farming in Europe — both in foodstuffs and wine — is huge and growing. And it is gaining adherents in this country too.
I recently visited one of California’s newest biodynamic estates, Truett-Hurst, in Dry Creek Valley near Healdsburg in Sonoma County. In Dry Creek’s rushing waters and rocky bed, trout flourish and salmon come 50 miles inland from the Pacific to spawn. You can see them from the bank.
“We draw water from the creek and sit here stirring our preps in half barrels,” said Ginny Lambrix, winemaker and partner at Truett-Hurst. “The hour goes by quickly.”
Planting, cultivating and harvesting according to lunar cycles and astrological influences also plays a significant role in biodynamic farming. The 14 acres of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah were scheduled for planting when Lambrix came aboard in July 2008. “I was so eager to get the vineyard going,” she said, as we stood among the young vines. It was already late to start planting, but the lunar phase was wrong.
“I was really nervous having to wait, but the very week they would have started to germinate, we had a terrific heat spike — it would have fried those little plants! A week later, things cooled down with perfect conditions for planting.”
Hmmmm … it’s as if the universe, in its movement about the galaxy, “knows” far more than we can imagine; there are forces at work whether or not scientists can see or prove their existence. Why not? We can’t “see” magnetic or electric forces, but we can see the effects of them. And as growers see the results of working with their plot of earth, treating it as the living organism it is, using preparations to nourish and revitalize it, they’re convinced. And on a much tinier scale, I am as well.
Paul Dolan, one of the pioneering biodynamic proponents at Dark Horse Vineyards in California kindly sent me a manure-stuffed cowhorn last spring. Buried the previous fall, it had turned into rich, black, particle-fine soil. I roped two friends into helping me stir it in five gallons of spring water, 20 minutes each, creating the deep vortex of swirling water that synergizes all the elements. It worked amazingly fast on my compost pile, and I noticed that where I sprayed it on my flower and herb beds, the seeds germinated well and the plants had stronger stems. It seems to help amend my sticky red clay areas quite nicely too.
I won’t garden without these aids now. If it interests you, Google the Josephine Porter Institute in Virginia. They stock horned manure and other biodynamic mixtures you can buy.  

Meantime, search out one of the recommended wines [below] to share with your heart’s delight on Valentine’s Day. It may work some magic for both of you!

Wine Buys of the Month

All of these wines are organically or biodynamically grown.
If you don’t find them in stock locally, stores can order them. All are available online.

Bonterra Syrah, Mendocino,    also: Bonterra dry Rosé,  Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon
Ca’ del Solo  Albariño, California
Casa Lapostolle  Merlot, Chile
Château Bousquette  St. Chinian (dry rosé)
Domaine des Cèdres Côte-du-Rhône
Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Meysonniers--many, if not all, Chapoutier wines are biodynamic
King Estate Pinot Gris, Oregon  Pinot Noir, Oregon
Domaine Leflaive  Macon-Verzé   Leflaive is 100% biodynamic
Paul Dolan  Zinfandel, Mendocino    also:  Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Sinskey  Pinot Noir, Carneros
Sauvignon Blancs : Frog’s Leap, Patianna, Paul Dolan,  Arboleda, Chile
Truett-Hurst Zinfandel Three Vineyards    a new estate in Sonoma; 100% biodynamic
Kreydenweiss Perrières  France
Pierre Morey Meursault  France
Jolivet Pouilly-Fumé  Loire   also Sancerre 
Torino CUMA Malbec  Argentina
Rapitala Nero d'Avola  Sicily


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 ©Barbara Ensrud