Many times I have had conversations about Biodynamic agriculture. Some people say it has some Hocus Pocus, some “mystical” stuff around, not based on scientific rigor but rather on obscure precepts outside the reach of common mortals. I think organic winemaking and biodynamic principles in agriculture and also applied to winemaking are here to stay and in the upcoming future we will see a growing number of winemakers working this way. The influx of the Moon over so many things occurring on Earth is for real. Centuries ago, and not even that far, agriculture followed the cycles of the Moon. It is a fact that biodynamic preparations help the soil of the vineyards to be richer in nutrients and more alive than when you don’t use them. Biodynamic farming consists on creating a live entity including vineyard, winery, vines, animals, soil, insects and humans, all being part of a holistic, ecological and ethical approach to cultivation, land management, food processing and nutrition.
I like so much biodynamic agriculture applied to vineyards and wines. I like to follow the phases of the Moon for bottling and for moving wine. I like the use of the preparations in the field. I do believe all this has its influence in the glass of wine we can enjoy. For this reason, I also love to visit and talk to winemakers working this way.
Sitting almost atop of the Vipava River Valley is the right place for finding a winery guided by the principles of Biodynamic. Primož Laurenčič is the owner of Burja Estate, where he continues the tradition initiated by his ancestors when they arrived in the Vipavska Dolina back in 1499 and dedicated to agriculture and viticulture. Now Primož follows his passion applying organic and biodynamic methods to winemaking. His principles are very basic and simple, even if they are not followed regularly in other wine regions. Important concepts like planting local varieties, being honest to diversity and richness of his vineyards, as each of them responds differently, depending on soil and climate are key to reaching his objectives. The use of indigenous yeasts is also of top importance, as these yeasts will convey the expression of the vineyards into the wine.
Primož has a handful of hectares planted with different white and red varieties. The vineyards are Ravno Brdo (1,7 ha.) planted with Modri Pinot (Pinot Noir, Blauburgunder), Modra Frankinja (Blaufränkisch), Malvazija (Malvasia Istriana), Zelen, Laški Rizling (Italian Riesling, Welschriesling) and Rebula (Ribolla Gialla). Stranice (1,6 ha.) has Refošk (Refosco), Pokalca (Schioppettino), Malvazija and Laški rizling. Zadomajc (0,8 ha.) is planted with Modri Pinot. Golavna has 1,4 ha. of Zelen and finally Ostri vrh has 1,6 ha. planted with Rebula, Malvazija, Renski Rizling (Rizling), Laški rizling and Modri Pinot.
One of the important features of Burja Estate vineyards is the soil. In past articles about wineries in the Italian Collio and Slovenian Goriška Brda, we have talked about the Ponca (in Italian), Opoka (in Slovenian) or Flysch (in Friulano) soil, a marlstone and sandstones soil developed over fifty million years ago. These rocks, rich in calcium carbonate, were formed under the sea in the Eocene Era and it is also very rich in marine sediment and full of fossils that you can see just by simply looking at the rocks.
Another important feature is shown in the name of the winery: the Burja, a brutal wind in this part of Slovenia coming from the Northeast that sometimes reaches gusts of up to 235 km/h.
As for the wines Primož produces, I had the opportunity of tasting all of them, including some old vintages. Primož macerates all his white wines on the skins. His Malvazija is a wonderful wine and his Zelen, a local variety, is a truly amazing wine.
Noir is his interpretation of the Pinot Noir known here as Modri Pinot, a wine that will give you so much pleasure. And his most special red wine in my opinion, Reddo. A blend of Pokalca 50%, Modra Frankinja 30% and Refošk 20%, grapes coming from young vineyards 4 to 6 years old. The first vintage of Reddo was 2016. I never was a fan of Refosco or Refošk but this wine has a very elegant personality.
Both red wines are aged for two years in large barrels (10 to 15 hl) and also the typical 225-liter barrels.
Burja Estate is a grand discovery here in the Vipavska Dolina region. Honest wines with a deep terroir character.
Soon we will talk to Primož Laurenčič about his winemaking philosophy.