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During the 1980s, many an American wine lover was heard to complain that Burgundy just wasn’t what it used to be. The reds seemed to lack their familiar velvety texture; the whites seemed tart and vapid. The hue and cry went up: How come this stuff lacks concentration? Where’s the fruit? Now we know what happened. Far too many of the wines made from the mid-’60s through mid-’80s were indeed dilute, their life spans severely shortened. The culprits: nitrate-based fertilizer and high-yielding root stocks, all employed on a massive scale during this time. The reason: Everyone wanted bigger crops, no matter the resulting loss of concentration and color in the wine. The fellow who blew the whistle: Nicolas Joly, who for three decades now has campaigned in favor of more natural wines. Today, Joly’s group of organic and biodynamic winegrowers, known as Return to Terroir, is rapidly gaining in influence throughout France. Among the goals the group espouses: no weed killers, no chemical treatments, no mechanical harvesting, no artificial yeast in the fermentation and no chaptalization (or sugaring). But proper viticulture — la biodynamie — extends beyond using organic methods. “The earth is not merely what is under our feet!” Joly tells us at Coul�e de Serrant. The goal of biodynamic farming is to get in sync with the earth as a whole: atmosphere, climate, soil and, in its most esoteric notion, the phases of the moon — some say that a waning moon produces different effects from a full one. The proof is in the wines. Joly’s 2002 Coul�e de Serrant is intense: a mixture of honey, tea leaves, mint and herbs of Provence. Since Anne-Claude Leflaive went biodynamic, her wines have taken on new depth and concentration. Today, they are the essence of white Burgundy: almond paste, acacia honey, wildflowers. In Alsace, Jean-Michel Deiss’ wines are intense and pure. I recently had a chance to taste a wide range of organic and biodynamic wines, many of them from Return to Terroir members. On the whole, the wines were more concentrated. They were definitely purer. Search them out. PURE WINES Beaujolais and Burgundy � 2003 Moulin-�-Vent (Ch�teau des Jacques/Domaine Jadot), $20 � 2003 Morgon (Ch�teau des Lumieres/Domaine Jadot), $20 � 2002 Bourgogne blanc (Ch�teau de Puligny-Montrachet), $22 � 2001 Monthelie rouge (Domaine Pierre Morey), $30 � 2002 Meursault 1er Cru “Sous le Dos d’Ane” blanc (Domaine Leflaive), $115 Alsace � 2001 Alsace Riesling (Domaine Marc Temp�), $18 � 2001 Alsace Riesling Grand Cru Muenchberg (Domaine Ostertag), $40 � 2001 Alsace Gewurztraminer Grand Cru “Steinert” (Domaine Pierre Frick), $30 � 2001 Alsace “Engelgarten” (Domaine Deiss), $35 � 2001 Alsace Grand Cru “Altenberg” (Domaine Deiss), $75 Loire Valley � 2002 Savenni�res “Les Clos Sacres” (N. Joly), $30 � 2002 Coul�e de Serrant (N. Joly), $75

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