Château Fonplegade goes biodynamic

Château Fonplegade joins a growing number of top Bordeaux chateaux that are turning to biodynamic farming. 

Château Fonplegade, Bordeaux
Château Fonplegade, Bordeaux

Château Fonplegade is the latest Bordeaux chateau to become certified biodynamic. The Right Bank property has been organic since 2013, and as of this year can display the Biodyvin label.

The chateau is owned by Americans Denise and Stephen Adams, who bought Château Fonplegade in St. Emilion in 2004 and restored it. Vines have been cultivated on the property since the 16th century; in 2005, the Adams replanted one third of the vineyard area, turning to hand farming and biodynamic practices, under the guidance of biodynamic consultant Corinne Comme.

“At Château Fonplegade, we are proud to be one of the pioneers of biodynamic viticulture on Bordeaux’s legendary Right Bank,” said Denise Adams in a statement. “We feel it is our privilege and responsibility to be devoted stewards of this precious land so that it may be preserved for generations to come.”

While biodynamic farming has much in common with organic farming, including an emphasis on building the soil, it also includes esoteric concepts originally laid down by Austrian mystic Rudolf Steiner and his followers in the early 20th century. Practitioners treat the property as an integrated organism and must use defined preparations made from such herbs as yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle and oak bark. 

“First and foremost, biodynamic farming brings total life force and vitality to the soil and allows the full spectrum of nutrients needed to be resilient to pests, disease and extreme climate conditions,” said Adams.  “This method not only brings vine health but is a vehicle for achieving the purest expression of the terroir, giving balance, energy, complexity and length to the wines.”

Bordeaux is not the easiest landscape in which to practice organic and biodynamic farming as the humid climate encourages mildew and pests like moths; both farming methods prohibit the use of conventional pesticides and fungicides. Yet organic cultivation is spreading, and biodynamic methods are becoming increasingly popular at top properties such as Château Pontet-Canet in Pauillac and Château Palmer in the Médoc. Practitioners on the Right Bank include Château Fonplegade.

Denise and Stephen Adams have had a long interest in the practice, founding ADAMVS on Howell Mountain in California in 2008, which is farmed biodynamically.

Felicity Carter

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