Biodynamic farming has become more widespread globally in the last 10 years. Over 700 vineyards are certified worldwide, while many others are simply committed to the principles and recognized practices. For these wineries, it has become a way of life where nature is treated with respect, rigor, and passion.
The founder of the biodynamic approach was Rudolf Steiner who formed the basis of biodynamic farming in 1924 by using compost as fertilizer and avoiding the use of any chemicals. He brought forth a comprehensive approach that the farm is a “single, self-sustaining organism” that relies on the healthy interplay of cosmic and earthly influences. His formula follows a “planting calendar” that is based upon astronomical configurations treating the earth as a living and receptive organism. These principles foster self-sufficiency of the soil and its fertility where all living matter is inter-connected.
Industry professionals generally claim that wines resulting from biodynamic farming tend to be stronger, clearer, more vibrant and floral. In a nutshell, a greater expression of the terroir itself. You can find many organic wineries throughout Greece, but very few that have embraced applying biodynamic farming. One of these is the Silva Winery, led by oenologist Eirini Daskalaki. She has embraced these rigorous practices for over 5 years now and continues to push the quality of her terroir. All agricultural work including planting, ploughing and harvesting is done manually.
Wines from indigenous grapes
Many of the Silva wines have gained international recognition under the brand names of Vorinos, Emphasis, Enstikto and the staple sweet wine Emilia. The Silva winery harvests both local varieties like Vidiano, Kotsifali, Mandilari and Liatiko and international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Earlier this year, five of their wines received medals at the 2019 International Wine Competition in Thessaloniki, namely Vorinos (a 100% Vidiano) and Emphasis red (2013), which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Mandilari.
One of these local grapes is Mandilari. It grows vigorously and is quite resistant to droughts. Considered as the “King of local red varieties”, it has a deep and profound colour, medium to high acidity and usually high tannins. It has earthy aromas and is often partnered with Kotsifali which is more aromatic and paler in colour. There are several PDO Wine varieties of Kotsifali and Mandilari in Crete, namely Peza and Handakas-Candia.
A unique sweet natural wine
One of Silva’s well recognized products is Emilia, a sweet wine aged for 5 years in French and American barrels. Aromas of raisins, vanilla, caramel and chocolate are found in this sweet nectar that was recognized by the Hellenic Foreign Trade Board in 2012. It is made of Liatiko, which is an indigenous variety of Crete. It ripens early in July (hence its name louliatiko which comes form the Greek name loulios for July). The wines are usually pale in color with intense sweet fruity aromas, medium acidity, a medium body and soft tannins.
While the Daskalaki family has selected to make biodynamic farming a way of life, they continue to push the boundaries for high quality which confirm that today’s wineries can pursue the strongest commitment to sustainable farming while achieving the highest levels of success with their wines.