Biodynamic Bordeaux

It was great to be out in Bordeaux again last week … my flight was the one that didn’t get cancelled; the rest of the family weren’t so lucky. The main aim of the visit was for us to gain an insight into biodynamic winemaking. Bordeaux is France’s leading region on sustainable viticulture, with 75% of properties signed up to some sort of environmental certification, whether that be HVE (Haute Valeur Environmentale), Terra Vitis or organic. Organic conversion in viticulture is up 43% increase in 2020.

However, biodynamic viticulture is a big step up in conscientious thinking – it’s a holistic approach to winemaking, both to be kind to the planet and to get more flavours into wine.

Château Fonroque in Saint-Émilion is the first Grand Cru Classé property to gain biodynamic certification. It’s taken 18 years of work to put it fully into practice. Great visit. Illuminating.

Inside the winery at Chateau Fonroque in Saint-Emilion

After Fonroque, it was back to the Côtes de Castillon, next door,  our own property, Château La Clarière in Sainte Colombe. There we were replanting vineyard so steep we call it the Black Run! Dangerous for a tractor to negotiate … unless it’s GPS navigated like the one we borrowed last week. You can see it in action in the short video. You see the driver getting out while it’s moving. He’s not needed!

We were planting this tiny plot with Cabernet Franc. You’ll notice one end has roots, the other is dipped in red wax to protect the wound … the join where the Cab Franc is grafted on to its American rootstock – essential defence against the phylloxera bug … which eats normal roots.

Meanwhile, a few miles away in the Medoc, hailstones bigger than golf balls were smashing roofs, denting cars and stripping vineyards bare.   It’s a dangerous life  for  a vine down here.  

Cabernet Franc vines


About Tom Laithwaite

Tom, youngest son of Tony and Barbara Laithwaite, now taking over as our Company Chairman. Worked several years in Australia, helped build the new RedHeads winery. Heavily involved recently in bringing the Red Lion pub, Peppard, back from the dead.

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