Bodegas Krontiras: A Biodynamic Expression of Mendoza (#WinePW)

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Readers of L’Occasion and my column at Forbes must be interested in biodynamics. It is one of the topics I cover regularly because I have an interest and because I have a background writing about sustainability.

Prior to my exclusive focus on wine (food and travel too), I also covered yoga (I’m a certified teacher in the Iyengar method), mindfulness and ecology. I was the ‘green’ section editor at elephant journal, where I was also a contributor. In that time I interviewed Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, covered beat poet perspective on the planet, reported on Keystone XL, zero waste, plastics bans, oil addiction, climate change and sustainable businesses (including Guinness, which, in a full circle pattern, I’ve also covered for Forbes).

Moving Into Wine

Why did swap my beat from green to wine? Both topics are interests of mine and though writing about wine turned out to be my vocation, I still seek out stories that put Earth first. However, I felt that the conversation around sustainability — at the time, in the media — was perpetually aggressive and negative.

When I covered Joseph Emet and his Ecology is Every Step meditation I began to notice that certain agricultural practitioners held promise towards a peaceful conversation that was less about ‘saving’ the Earth and more about balanced, thriving ecosystems. An excerpt:

I am struck with how current ecological initiatives are so often based on fear and anxiety: fear of the future, and anxiety about an impending disaster. I keep wondering what would happen to a relationship or a marriage that was also based on fear and anxiety. . . I know that I don’t want to be in that kind of a relationship! My feelings about the environment are based on love and kindness; love for the Earth our mother, and kindness for her creatures. I cannot help thinking that something based on positive feelings is more likely to bear positive results.

My thoughts about wine were consistently positive. The people I met and interviewed were consistently generous. And covering conscientious producers means I didn’t have to turn a blind eye, if you will, towards the issues — instead I could highlight sections of our economy, lifestyle and agricultural industry that bring us forward. The metabolic rhythm of wine felt right to me, still feels right to me. I don’t only cover sustainability in the wine world, but it is one of the capstones of the dossier of my projects.

I changed the name of my blog to L’Occasion and applied what I’d learned writing my novel (about winemakers) and began to freelance… the rest is history in the making.

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Bodegas Krontiras

This month’s Wine Pairing Weekend event focuses on biodynamic wines from around the world. I had the opportunity to interview Maricruz Antolin, winemaker and agronomist at Krontiras in Argentina’s Mendoza region. Bodegas Krontiras is certified biodynamic and the first winery in Mendoza to process organic and biodynamic grapes in their own certified and organic winery — a symbol of the people I’m proud to know through our commonality of wine.

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Maricruz Antolin of Krontiras. Photo Credit: Vida Wines

Antolin shares her perspective here:

Jill Barth: Please share the sights, sounds and smells of your vineyard. Describe the atmosphere for us.

Maricruz Antolin: When you get into our estate, you can feel, hear, smell and see the Nature. You can see and hear the birds flying or resting in the trees and also different kind of animals grazing. At the same time, the wind embraces the trees and its sound comes through our ears. The environment is so healthy that you can see wildflowers all over the vineyards, with different native weeds that are a needed part of our farm. Then we can smell the wet organic soil at the same time with the rest of the flowers.

It is very nice when nature gets into your pores, into your eyes. Is a detoxifying experience. ~Maricruz Antolin

JB: Do you have any animals on the vineyard that help maintain the balance of the ecosystem.

MA: Yes, they are a fundamental part of our estate. You can find from cows, llamas, horses, donkeys and sheep. We love our animals and in addition, they help us to keep our estate clean, at the same time fertilizing our soil.

JB: Which certifications does your winery hold?

MA: Organic by Ecocert and biodynamic by Demeter.

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JB: Can you speak to the concept of fair pricing in the Argentine wine market?

MA: Argentina is accustomed to a volatile economic environment (inflation, export restrictions, high costs of materials), which has made us all naturally creative thinkers in terms of pricing our wines. Our success as a country was achieved overdelivering quality for price and through this practice, we have gained a great deal of exposure and recognition of the quality of our wines — both value and premium wines.

JB: What are the opportunities for small-production Argentine wines in the U.S. market?

MA: The opportunities are great as the wines have a very high-quality standard. Because we control the whole process, we can guarantee that our wines are synthetic- and pesticide-free, including Glyphosate, which has recently been under a great deal of investigation. We aim to provide great wine to all those consumers who want to enjoy high quality and healthy wine. These customers are growing in numbers these days and they appreciate the value that high quality, pesticide-free wine is offering.  I’m not sure if you can reach this kind of control/attention to health if you are a massive brand producing millions of bottles.

JB: Are your wines ‘natural’, and if so what does that mean to you?

MA: Natural wines are wines without any additives. We want the wine to taste of our terroir and try to keep the grapes as “naked” as we can. Our natural Malbec is the “natural” step ahead for our winery. We have been experimenting with no sulfur added Malbec since 2015 and we made it happen in 2017. The grapes from our Villa Seca, Maipu, vineyard were selected very carefully and fermented in stainless steel tanks with no addition of sulfites at any stage of vinification. Our winemaking team’s intervention was minimal throughout the process and the result is a very aromatic wine with the absolute balance between acidity and tannins.

Krontiras wines are available in the U.S. through Vida Wines, and wine made by Maricruz Antolin are also included in the Women Winemakers package.

Pairing to try: Soft tannins encourage lean red meat, chicken or pork pairings for classic Argentine Malbec, one of the varieties employed by Antoni and her neighbors. Mushroom, charcuterie and cheese also play well with Malbec. Pair Doña Silvina Malbec 2016 by Krontirus with Roasted Beef Tenderloin or Mushroom Ragout.

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Wine Pairing Weekend

The Wine Pairing Weekend crew is getting into the swing of Earth Month by searching out and writing about biodynamic wines of the world — and what to pair with them this month. Read the invite post here.

Join us on for our monthly ritual, a Twitter chat this Saturday, April 13. Follow along using the hashtag #WinePW to hear from these authors:

Jeff Burrows: “Biodynamics in the Dolomites with Azienda Agricola Foradori” FoodWineClick

15 thoughts on “Bodegas Krontiras: A Biodynamic Expression of Mendoza (#WinePW)

  1. I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey, Jill. Your focus on sustainable winemaking comes from such an honest place; one that gives heart to each piece that you write. Looking forward to reading along as you go forward!

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  2. I really love the quote you share by Joseph Emet. SO true and useful. I will absolutely take this heart and try to reframe my thinking on earth-friendly acts in a loving way when they slip towards fear. I also loved Maricruz Antolin’s description of the vineyards — really puts you right there.

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  3. I am increasingly encountering wines made from biodynamic vineyards. Some of our favourites from Oregon and from Champagne are made at biodynamic estates, a fact we discovered long after we discovered the wines. I have to confess that I struggle with the lack of scientific underpinning of many of the bd concepts. That aside, the paradigm shows great respect for the land and surrounding ecosystem. And has resulted in some pretty great wines!

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    1. I’ve been lucky enough to deep dive in some conversations with producers that use biodynamics and it’s then that the science really becomes clear. I think that there is a messaging flaw that disguises the science sometimes, but when you get time to absorb the WHY behind the methods it becomes a field of study and practice like any other method. But, it’s true, it is complex and takes time and someone willing to teach.

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