Château Feely Terroir Feely


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Tel: +33(0)553 227271

Seán & Caro Feely
Château Feely
24240 Saussignac France

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    Terroir Feely:
    Sentez, Vivez , Rêvez
    ~ Feel, Live, Dream

  • Feely Wines: fine organic wine from our certified organic and biodynamic vineyard

    Feely Wines



    Feely Label Terroir Feely award-winning wines from our ten hectare certified organic and biodynamic vineyard, include rich reds, refreshing dry whites & delectable dessert wines. Our natural wines are created with artisanal practices in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the winery. No animal products are used in the winemaking and the wines are thus suitable for vegans. Our wines are certified organic with ecocert from 2009 and certified biodynamic with Demeter from 2011. Descriptions of our current wines and customer comments follow (click the text to jump to the wine):

  • Luminosité: sauvignon blanc/ semillon dry white wine
  • Générosité: barrel-aged semillon dry white wine
  • Sincérité: pure sauvignon blanc dry white wine
  • Silex: pure sémillon dry white wine
  • Mille Fleurs: pure sémillon dry orange wine no sulphites added
  • Sensualité: rosé
  • Résonance: merlot dry red wine
  • La Source: barrel-aged merlot cabernet sauvignon dry red wine blend
  • Grace: barrel-aged no sulphite added natural dry red wine blend
  • Vérité: barrel-aged pure cabernet sauvignon natural dry red wine
  • Premier Or: saussignac dessert wine
  • Methode Traditionelle Sparkling Wine
  • Customer Comments

    ****************************************************************************************************************Sophia checking the development of vintage 2007 on the vine

    Description of each Wine

    Feely vineyard is certified organic with ecocert and biodynamic with Demeter.

    Luminosité: sauvignon blanc sémillon dry white wine blend

    certified organic wine ecocert (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: sold out.)
    Terroir Feely Luminosite We harvest our white grapes in the cool of the night to keep the fresh fruit flavours and aromas. This wine is a beautiful rainbow of flavours.
    Details: Aromas of citrus and gooseberry on the first nose give way to pear and a hint of white peach on the second. On the palate the waves of flavour follow this coming back to a long citrus finish that keeps going and going. Enjoy with fish, seafood, friends and on its own.

    Customer Comments: ‘A heaven-made match delivering distinctive fruit flavours with a satisfying crisp, dry finish. Superb value for a sophisticated and well-structured wine.' Ronan Dolan, Barrister, Dublin
    "A clean, crisp wine, lipsmackingly tart at first. Warmer, silky honey tones build to a mid-palate as the semillon kicks in, with the complex heather and wet gravel characters of a Bordeaux white wine four times this price. A fine and engaging white wine" Tomas Clancy, Wine Correspondent, Sunday Business Post

    Vital Statistics:

  • Sauvignon blanc 60%/ Sémillon 40%
  • Vat fermented and matured for 6 months on the fine lees
  • Vin bio / Organic wine Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Vegan friendly. Basket pressed. Unfined. Lightly filtered.
  • Total Sulphites: 71mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 200mg/litre new organic wine max: 150mg/l)
  • About 2900 bottles produced per annum from designated vines on east facing vines growing in limestone fossil rock.
  • Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Bergerac Sec. 13% alc vol 750ml
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    Générosité barrel-aged dry white semillon organic wine 2014

    (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 sold out)
    Terroir Feely Generosite
    Details: Bright yellow fruit. Barrel spice. Memory of stone. Generosity of nature.

    Packed with spice, smoke, apple, vanilla. It has enough acidity to taste fresh despite the richness of the barrel-aging. This is a perfect match with spicy foods: eg creamy korma chicken or a finer dish like monkfish with cream and ginger sauce.
    Vital Statistics:

  • Sémillon 90%/ Sauvignon blanc 10%
  • Part barrel-fermented. Matured it on its lees for several months after vinification to extract the wonderful fine flavours then in french oak barrels (mix of Jupille and medium fine) for a further 12 months to bring out the nuances of these old, prestigious vines.
  • Organic Wine Ecocert FR-BIO-01
  • Wine made with Demeter certified biodynamic grapes
  • Hand-harvested
  • Indigenous yeast
  • Unfined
  • Vegan friendly
  • Total Sulphites: 101mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 240mg/litre – dry white with two years of barrel aging/ new organic wine max: 150mg/l)
  • About 1300 bottles produced per annum from designated vines planted in 1945 east facing slopes of limestone fossil rock and silex.
  • Vin de France 14% alc vol 750ml
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    Sincérité: pure Sauvignon Blanc dry white wine 2015

    (2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014: sold out)
    This is a beautiful sauvignon blanc wine - crisp, mineral and citrussy.
    Terroir Feely Sincerite Details: A living wine that is fresh and fruity with good acidity and a long finish. Notes of fruit: citrus, gooseberry and guava give way to a hint of salinity on the finish, a memory from the ancient limestone sea fossil rock on which the vines grow.

    Enjoy on its own or with foods like monkfish, salmon or shellfish.

    Wine Critic's Comments:
    ‘Your sauvignon blanc is like a fine Loire sauvignon. Mineral, citrussy and concentrated’ Wine specialist
    ‘This is sauvignon blanc like you have never tasted. There is a wild, earthy streak… with the crispness of grapefruit and a very individual mineral backbone' Raymond Blake, Wine Editor, Food & Wine

    Vital Statistics:

  • Sauvignon blanc 100%
  • Vin bio / Organic wine Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Made with certified biodynamic grapes (Demeter)
  • Hand-harvested
  • Vegan friendly. Unfined. Lightly filtered.
  • Total Sulphites: 103mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 200mg/litre / organic wine max: 150mg/l). This is a little higher than usual for our dry whites because of a 1.5g of residual sugar. With the hot conditions of 2015 it was unavoidable.
  • About 1500 bottles produced from designated vines on limestone fossil rock.
  • Vin de France. 14% alc vol 750ml Return to Top

    Silex: pure sémillon dry white wine

    (2011: sold out)

    Terroir Feely Silex Pure semillon: a fine, aged white wine with apple aromas followed by flavours of candied peel and a honey note.
    Vital Statistics:
  • Sémillon 100%.
  • Vat fermented and matured for 18 months on the fine lees.
  • Vin bio Organic wine. Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Vegan friendly. Unfined. Lightly filtered.
  • Total Sulphites: 54mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 200mg/litre / new organic wine max: 150mg/l)
  • 1320 bottles from old vines – planted in 1945 – on a unique hillside of limestone on the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.
  • Vin de France 13% alc vol 750ml

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    Mille Fleurs 2013: pure sémillon dry white wine (orange coloured wine) no sulphites added

    sold out
    Feely mille fleurs noSO2 orange wine A living wine that offers a full mouthfeel balanced with fine acidity. Aromas of orange blossom, clove, honeycomb and ginger delight the nose then refresh the palate.

    The Mille Fleurs is a true living wine and the bottles can be a little bit different and all are cloudy and orange as they are not filtered or fined and are no sulfites added. It is very different to our other white wines. Don't expect a white wine expect a new drink. It is a little petillant and fantastic with spicy food. Try it with tarka dhal for a really intersting taste experience.

    The long finish offers grapefruit, a hint of honey and the minerality of the limestone fossil rock and smoke of the flintstone where the vines are growing. Feely vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic (Demeter).
    Vital Statistics:

  • Sémillon 100%.
  • Vin bio/Organic wine
  • Vin issu de raisins biodynamiques certifiés Demeter / Wine made with Demeter certified biodynamic grapes
  • Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Levures indigènes/Indigenous yeast
  • Elevage en barriques/Barrel aged (French oak)
  • Non-collé/Unfined
  • Non-filtré/Unfiltered Feely mille fleurs noSO2 orange wine
  • Végétalien/Vegan friendly
  • Total Sulphites: No suphites added. Total sulphites around 10mg/l (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 200mg/litre / new organic wine max: 150mg/l)
  • 1000 bottles from old vines – planted in 1945 – on a unique hillside of limestone on the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.
  • Vin de France 12% alc vol 750ml

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    Sensualité 2015: off dry rosé wine from cabernet sauvignon

    Feely sensualite rose (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014: sold out)
    A full- flavoured off dry rosé quince and citrus on the nose and a fresh, long finish.

    Vital Statistics:

  • Cabernet sauvignon 100%.
  • Press rosé vat fermented and matured.
  • Vin bio Organic wine. Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Vegan friendly. Indigenous yeast. Unfined. Lightly filtered.
  • Total Sulphites: 104mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 200mg/litre / new organic wine max: 150mg/l). A little higher than usual due to residual sugar of 2.8g/l unavoidable because of the hot conditions of 2015.
  • 1700 bottles from 5 year old cabernet sauvignon on the limestone plateau of Feely certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.
  • Vin de France 14% alc vol 750ml

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    'Merlot' becoming cuvee 'Résonance': dry red wine

    (2006, 2008 sold out. 2009 certified organic grapes. 2011 onwards certified organic wine)
    A fine red wine with notes of plum and blackberry and a smooth mocha finish. Enjoy with pasta, red meat or dark poultry. Thirty year old vines contribute finesse to this designated vineyard, limited production wine.

    Wine Critic's Comments:
    ‘A strong aromatic impression, intense colour and a spicy, perfumed nose. A powerful wine offering black fruit aromas’ Guide Hachette 2009 (the merlot was selected and starred)

    Thé 2006 of this wine won a medal on the Bordeaux wine competition in 2008 and on the Decanter wine competition in 2009 Terroir Feely Resonance Click this bolded text to read what Jon Rimmerman, wine retailer in the US says about this wine.Then read about our label designs and sensitive cristallisation.

    Vital Statistics 2011:

  • Merlot 98%.
  • Vat fermented and matured.
  • Vin bio Organic wine from 2011 onwards. Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Vegan friendly. Indigenous yeast. Unfined. Lightly filtered.
  • Total Sulphites: Total Sulphites: around 80mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 150mg/litre dry red wine new organic wine max 100mg/l)
  • Around 4000 bottles from Merlot on limestone on the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.
  • Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Bergerac. 13% alc vol 750ml

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    La Source: merlot cabernet sauvignon barrel-aged blend

    (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 sold out. From 2009 certified organic grapes, from 2011 certified organic and biodynamic grapes)
    A wine alive with complex flavours redolent of blackberry and plum and true to its terroir: a small plot on the limestone plateau of the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard. Hand-crafted, gently aged for 18 months in French oak barrels and parented by old vines. This fine blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon offers dark fruit and spice on the nose followed by dark fruit and plum on the palate with notes of mocha in the finish. A concentrated wine that is promising to deliver good aging potential and complexity. 2010 and 2012 are both no sulphites added wines.

    Wine Critics' Comments:
    ‘absolutely gorgeous’ Sandra Mooney, The Irish Times
    Terroir Feely Les Compagnons 2010 'Lavish Autumn berry flavours with a nice touch of freshness. Beware, this is the sort of bottle that tends to empty itself. Good depth of flavour, a smooth texture and lingering coffee mocha finish add to the enjoyment." Mary Dowey, Wine Editor, The Gloss
    'A luscious, toasty wine with a fine tannic frame, good dark currant tones and a fine evolving finish. This is a cuvée to watch.' Tomas Clancy, Wine Correspondent, Sunday Business Post

    Vital Statistics 2011:

  • Merlot 80%/ Cabernet sauvignon 10%/ Cabernet franc 10%
  • Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels
  • Vin bio/ Organic Wine Ecocert FR-BIO-01
  • Vegan friendly. Indigenous yeast. Hand-harvested. Basket pressed. Barrel aged. Unfined. Unfiltered.
  • Total Sulphites: around 60mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 190mg/litre dry red wine with 2 years barrel aging/ new organic wine max 100mg/l)
  • Vin de France. 13% alc vol 750ml Return to Top

    Grace NV: a cabernet sauvignon / merlot barrel-aged blend no sulphites added

    (2008, 2010, 2012 sold out)
    The Grace bottled in 2016 is non-vintage because it was a blend of two vintages. For this wine we hold our nerve and wait to handpick the grapes for this wine with optimal ripeness. Our patience is rewarded with a rich, elegant and mineral wine: the grace of nature. A living wine; rich and fresh, that offers great depth of dark fruit, a hint of orange peel, spice and mint.

    Terroir Feely a Grand Terroir alive with MineralityWe handpick, destem and do manual punch down rather than pump overs and the extra investment and care really shows in the finished product.

    Vital Statistics (NV bottled in 2016):

  • Cabernet sauvignon 50%/ Merlot 50%
  • Aged for 24 months in French oak barrels.
  • Vin bio/Organic wine
  • Vin issu de raisins biodynamiques certifiés Demeter / Wine made with Demeter certified biodynamic grapes
  • Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Hand-harvested
  • Indigenous yeast
  • Unfined /Unfiltered
  • Végétalien/Vegan friendly
  • Total Sulphites: around 10mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 190mg/litre dry red wine with 2 years barrel aging/ new organic wine max 100mg/l). No sulfites added.
  • Vin de France.13.5% alc vol 750ml
  • 2650 bottles from old vines on limestone on the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.

    Vérité 2013: a pure cabernet sauvignon barrel-aged natural wine

    (2011 SOLD OUT)

    Vital Statistics 2013:

  • Cabernet sauvignon 100%
  • Aged for 18 months in American and French oak barrels
  • Vin bio/Organic wine
  • Vin issu de raisins biodynamiques certifiés Demeter / Wine made with Demeter certified biodynamic grapes
  • Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Hand-harvested
  • Indigenous yeast
  • Unfined /Unfiltered
  • Végétalien/Vegan friendly
  • No sulfites added (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 190mg/litre dry red wine with 2 years barrel aging/ new organic wine max 100mg/l).
  • Vin de France.13.5% alc vol 750ml
  • 1200 bottles from old vines on limestone on the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.

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    Premier Or Saussignac Dessert Wine

    (2000, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012: sold out.
    Terroir Feely Premier Or The saussignac botrytis dessert wine is truly a labour of love. The yield from a hectare of Saussignac is about 25% of the yield the same hectare would deliver of dry white. It is truly exquisite. The grapes are hand-picked (sometimes individually) and deliver up a juice that is golden and heavenly. Once fermented a complex set of aromas develop…

    Tasting Notes: Golden. Honey, passion fruit and a hint of almond on the nose. Notes of honeysuckle and orange blossom. Apricot, pear and passion fruit the palate with a long finish.

    Wine Critics' Comments about our saussignac: "This is a superstar dessert wine that deserves to be on every Irish wine shop shelf beside the Sauternes and Tokaji. Clean, bright apricot and acacia honey tones with great smoothness, then a classical botrytis cut that is the antithesis of unctuous." Tomas Clancy, Wine Correspondent, Sunday Business Post

    Wine Critics' Comments: ‘The Feely’s truly delicious white semi-sweet Moelleux is seriously in danger of giving sweet wines a good name.’ Liam Campbell, Wine Editor, The Dubliner
    Vital Statistics 2010:

  • Sémillon 80%/ Sauvignon blanc 20%. Botrytis sweet wine
  • Vin bio Organic wine. Ecocert FR-BIO-01 Agriculture France
  • Vegan friendly. Handpicked. Basket pressed. Indigenous yeast. Unfined. Lightly filtered
  • Aged for 18 months in French oak barrels
  • Total Sulphites:231 mg/litre (total EU norm max for this style of wine: 400mg/litre)
  • 600 bottles from old vines on limestone on the Feely's certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.
  • Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Saussignac.12.5% alc vol 500ml

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    Methode Traditionelle Quality Sparkling Wine

    (2007, 2009 2011, 2012, 2013 sold out)
    Château Feely sparkling This delicious wine is a favourite with all who ordered it for Christmas. A delicious biscuity sparkling wine made in the traditional method just like they do in champagne with low SO2 and a second fermentation in the bottle to create the bubbles.

    Customer Comment: 'We enjoyed your sparkling so much over Christmas please put us down for a couple of cases on your next delivery. Everyone raved about our excellent "Champagne".' Tom Rourke
    Typical Vital Statistics:

  • Sémillon 60%/Sauvignon blanc 40%
  • Vat fermented and matured for 6 months on the fine lees then placed into a champagne bottle for a second fermentation matured a further nine months in the quality sparkling/ methode traditionelle style.
  • Vegan friendly. Basket pressed. Unfined. Lightly filtered.
  • 600 bottles produced per annum from Feely certified organic and biodynamic vineyard.
  • Vin de France. 12.5% alc vol 750ml
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    Customer Comments

    ‘Your sémillon sauvignon blanc - excellent, refreshing and so good I’m sorry that we only had the single bottle’ Des, Dublin

    ‘We have just had the Feely's sauvignon blanc with a little freshly caught wexford fish ... magnifique!’ Terry and Antoinette, New Ross

    ‘Your semillon/ sauvignon blanc is my wine of choice now and I am encouraging my local O’Briens to keep it in stock’ Joan, Naas

    ‘Your sémillon / sauvignon blanc wine tasted great at our dinner last Saturday!’ Paul, Dublin

    ‘I received my sauvignon blanc and it is lovely. I will be ordering it again.’ June, Rush

    ‘Superb, a delightful wine and one we will certainly recommend’ Ned and Nuala, Wicklow (about our 2006 Sauvignon blanc)

    "I tried your merlot/cab lastnight and it was delicious." Wayne, Vancouver, Canada

    "I just wanted to let you know that your wine is really superb." Bernie, Dublin

    "We really enjoyed your wine. It was our style, easy to drink and not too heavy." Walter, Dublin

    "Enjoyed your wine - very impressed!" Padraic, Dublin

    "..Everyone we entertained over the holiday raved about your wine." Tom, Dublin

    Why Organic Wine Series

    Why Organic? Part 1 Introduction
    Why Organic? Part 2 Preservatives
    Why Organic? Part 3 Pesticides
    Why Organic? Part 4 Weedkill
    Why Organic? Part 5 its all about taste - life at the deep rock level
    Why Organic? Part 6 Systemic chemicals and why they are BAD for you and our vines
    Why Organic? Part 7 Hedgerows and Rosehip: natural vitamin c booster

    Why Organic? Part 8 New Organic Wine Rules
    Why Organic? Part 9 Pesticide residues in conventional wines 300 times the amount allowed in our drinking water
    Why Organic? Part 10 Natural Remedies for you and for our vines
    Why Organic? Part 11 Chemical fertilisers are the start of the infernal negative cycle
    Why Organic? Part 12 Its all about balance.
    Why Organic? Part 13 Why Handpick?
    Why Organic? Part 14 Why Bees?
    Why Organic? Part 15 What is biodynamics?
    Why Organic? Part 16 Magic Mushrooms
    Why Organic? Part 17 Muesli study highlights pesticide residues Caro highlights 3 reasons to choose organic Why Organic? CO2 reduction to follow in our next quarterly newsletters: click here to get to the sign up form

    Why Organic Wine? Why Biodynamic farming? Part 1 Introduction

    Weedkill on a vineyard in Aquitaine Certified organic is the only sure way to keep your grapes for the wine you drink free of chemicals. Many agricultural pesticide, herbicide (weedkill) and fungicide sprays are so toxic they state on the box do not enter the vineyard for 48 hours after spraying. If something is this toxic, you don't want it sprayed on something you are going to eat. Grapes are not washed before they are made into wine!

    Look at the photo at right of a vineyard in Aquitaine that is farmed chemically. There is no biodiversity. There is no plant matter on the ground in the vineyard and no hedges or other plants nearby thanks to excessive herbicide use. This is a classic monoculture where pest outbreaks are guaranteed. Not only that, uncovered earth means erosion when rain falls. With organic farming we have a balanced environment with much more biodiversity (photo below of Terroir Feely taken at the same time as the one above). We have never had a pest outbreak. If we ever did we would treat it with natural means. Rosemary and ferns are both good natural pesticides.

    Natural remedy for ants: If you get ants coming into the house put a large sprig of rosemary at their entrance and they will leave. We have high populations of the good bugs like ladybirds that keep the bad guys in check. If there are a few bad guys (eg aphids) around they generally prefer the other plants in the vineyard to the vines. They would only eat the vines if there was nothing else like in the other vineyard where the only green things are the vines.

    Spring time at Terroir Feely. A bounty of biodiversity

    Why Organic Wine? Why Biodynamic farming? Part 2 Preservatives

    'Preservatif' means condom in French so you can imagine how hard our organic neighbour laughed when I asked how many preservatifs were in his wine. Fortunately not many... Organic wines are lower in sulphur dioxide than conventional wines. Sulphur dioxide is the preservative added to wine to help to conserve it, limiting oxidation. It is the additive that gives you a tight, heavy head and a slowness the morning after enjoying a few too many glasses.

    Wines made organically have a higher natural resistance to oxidation. Why? In the process of protecting themselves naturally through the season the vine creates additional elements that a chemically protected vine does not, like producing more resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant found in grape skins. Even more importantly, using chemical fertiliser offers a potassium dose that means the vine lowers the natural acidity in her grapes and hence in the wine. This natural acidity is also a super protector and preservative of the wine. The lower this natural acidity the higher the sulphur dioxide dose needs to be and vice versa. As organic and biodynamic producers we aim to keep our sulphur dioxide dose at half or less than the EU maximum. With higher natural acidity we can do this without risk to the health of our wines. More healthy wine = less headaches for you.

    Why Organic Wine? Why Biodynamic farming? Part 3 Pesticides

    The death of a French winegrower in January, at a mere 43 years, officially recognised by the French government as directly due to vineyard pesticides, brings home how important organic is to basic health of the farmer but also to health of the person drinking the result.

    More than a quarter of the roughly 220,000 tons of pesticide used in Europe per year is sprayed on to French soil – some 65,000 tons – and a fifth of that amount goes onto French vineyards, despite the fact vineyards only account for less than five per cent of the country's total crop surface (ref; see The Daily Telegraph for the full story). We are stunned by this statistic as we have never needed to spray any pesticide on our vines. Why? We have equilibrium with natural habitats for good bugs that keep the bad bugs in check. Equilibrium is key to balance and health in agriculture. Creating excessive yields through chemical fertilisers creates excessive growth that creates a haven for pests and disease. Likewise using weedkill destroys the natural growth and biodiversity that the pests would generally prefer to eat to our precious vines.

    What can you do to make a difference? Buy certified organic or locally from someone you know and trust. We welcome visits. When you visit us you see first hand how natural methods benefit our farm and our health but also yours.

    Why Organic Wine? Why Biodynamic farming? Part 4 Weedkill or herbicide

    Ladybird / ladybug enjoying Spring time at Garrigue. A bounty of biodiversity Most conventional farmers use a range of herbicides or weedkill remove all other growth that could be competition to their crop. In some instances the weedkill is used across the entire surface area, other times just around the base of the eg vines. Two types of weedkill are applied: one to kill the plants that are already growing (usually a glyphosate like Roundup) and then another killer chemical (a preemergent herbicide) to stop the seeds from germinating. See the photos alongside part 1.

    STOP PRESS: Glyphosates like Roundup are TOXIC (ref; see Glyphosate Toxic for more on this story AND if you want a real laugh take a look at this You can drink it! (But I wont!) Video.

    In this way the only living thing left, in the case of vineyards, is the vines themselves, which makes them the perfect target for pests (since there is nothing else) leading to the need to spray pesticides that are highly carcinogenic right afterwards. With biodiversity all of this is avoided. Yes, there is a bit more labour required to keep the weeds down but it is compensated by the savings of not buying expensive chemicals.

    We had an organic dairy farmer from Dorset do a vineyard walking tour with us recently: he had converted to organic because of the conversion aid not for health or scientific reasons but afterwards he realised that all those products he had been buying like chemical fertilisers and chemical herbicides were totally unnecessary! Nature keeps the balance if you respect her.

    Apart from the direct effects and residues of these products going into our food and water supply a recent study shows that there are many unintended consequences to the likes of glyphosate that we are only beginning to understand (ref; see reuters Reuters roundup for the full story). To protect you and your family demand organic especially for things that are not peelable (like the grapes that go into wine! they are not washed and they are not peeled) (ref; see Organic consumer study for more on a recent study of kids diets comparing organic to non organic).

    Why Organic? Why Biodynamic? Its also about the taste! Part 5 Life at the deep rock level (eg about 2 metres down)

    The soil scientist that gives a great scientific explanation of 'taste of Terroir' and hence why we can taste 'minerality’ is Claude Bourgignon. It goes something like this: there is critter life at around 2m below the surface (and lower levels): critters that eat rocks for a living! They eat the rocks and then excrete them making them available to plants as soluble minerals. If you farm chemically you kill these critters. This is part of why you lose the taste of terroir in industrially farmed wines and you lose the beneficial minerals like magnesium etc from our food (and drink) supply (there is more to it than this e.g. the roots of chemically farmed vines don't go nearly as deep either). This is also part of why our food is becoming poor in these fundamentals minerals and we are taking more vitamin supplements / or adding man made versions to foods. These critters, in a healthy biodynamic soil, create a benefit that would take hundreds of man hours of work per hectare to match if we tried to do it ourselves and they are FREE - if you don’t mess with them.

    The short term gain of industrial agriculture and the associated low prices don’t include the long term cost of damage to our food supply and the environment. Bourgignon reckons if a farm is farmed industrially (chemically) for 30 years it will take 30 years of healthy farming to fully re-establish the truly good earth.

    After seven years of organic farming (now is 2012) of which 4 have been biodynamic that every year is an improvement. Despite organic certification only taking 3 years in reality he is probably right. We see better health and improvement in taste and in vineyard health every year but it is a long game and it is important to keep the faith in extremely challenging financial conditions where prices demanded are based on industrial yields impossible to achieve without paying a long term price in terms of the our consumer’s health, our own health and our farm’s health. Claude and Lydia Bourgignon’s book – he is a soil scientist specialised in vineyards but he also does some other agriculture.

    Why Organic? Part 6: Systemic fungicides: what are they and why are they used in non-organic food supply?

    Spring time at Garrigue. A bounty of biodiversity A vineyard that uses systemic fungicides will not host the beautiful orchid in this photo. A wild flower like this needs a healthy soil teaming with mycorrhiza and other fungi that help natural fertility. Systemic chemical fungicides are used to kill downy mildew in conventional vineyards. The only problem is that they enter the vine and work from the inside killing all fungi including good ones. It is a bit like an antibiotic. If you use them all the time you will weaken your system since you kill all the beneficial bacteria that you need to keep your stomach working properly. This is exactly what happens to the conventional vineyards that use systemic fungicides by rote. Not only does it not allow beautiful wild orchids to grow but it stops the vine's natural access to nutrients offered by the mycorrhiza (particularly in basic soil like ours that is primarily limestone).

    Why do conventional farmers do such a negative thing? Because one spray of systemic fungicide protects from mildew for a full month meaning lower labour hours for spraying and the opportunity to leave the vineyard untended for a month at a time. In organic farming we must be vigilant and observant all the time. With systemics the costs appear lower and the farming 'easier' in the short term but if the long term health of the vineyard and the consumer were included it would be a very different story.

    If you have visited us you have heard Caro saying that one of the reasons we moved to biodynamics was to solve the fungal problem of downy mildew. In 2007 we took on another difficult year with more rain and less sun than usual in our region. We were using the full amount allowed in the EU and we still had mildew. There had to be a better way. After significant reading and research we decided that biodynamics offered us that path.

    Spring time at Garrigue. A bounty of good food With the biodynamic approach we have reduced our copper dose to a quarter of the EU norm and that also means better aromas in our wines, more healthy soil (too much copper can be toxic in the long term even though it is allowed under organic). Read more about our biodynamic practices and our organic vineyard walks at Nature, biodynamics & the Organic Vineyard Trail.

    In this photo under the vines are the potatoes Sean grew in 2012 (on the left the beautiful purple flowers are fecilia - great for natural nitrogen fixing). He harvested about 40 kgs of potatoes, enough for our requirements for the year. We plant part of our vegetable garden in the vineyard so that guests can see that we are happy to eat from under our vines which is not the case for conventional winegrowers who are heavy users of chemicals (see stats above). The potatoes can be susceptible to 'blight' and therefore respond well to the same biodynamic approach that we use on the vines.

    Why Organic Wine? Why biodynamic farming? Part 7: Hedgerows and Rosehip

    Feely: a bounty of biodiversity The beautiful red dots in this snowy lanscape are rosehips. Once the cold of winter has hit the rosehips become soft so that you can squeeze their wonderful vitamin c goodness out of them. The are nature's ultimate winter vitamin booster pockets totally free from the hedgerows.

    Pick the soft rosehip and gently squeeze the red paste out taking care not to extract the pips as these are hairy and hence are not pleasant and cause bowel irritation, they are easy to see do don't let that put you off. These incredible hedgerow roses give us beautiful white single row petal roses in the spring and summer and these magical pockets in winter. They are wild and grow naturally in local hedgerows.

    Hedgerows are a key part of organic and natural farming offering a wonderful biodiversity that helps to keep the balance.


    Hedgerows at Feely. A bounty of biodiversity Hedgerows at Feely. A bounty of biodiversity










    Why Organic? Part 8: New Organic Wine Rules

    Old Agriculture Biologique logo We are ecstatic. The new organic wine rules came into effect from vintage 2012. This is great news for consumers.

    All wines with the European leaf logo are now guaranteed organic winemaking not just organic in the vineyard. What do these new winemaking rules mean for you as a winelover? The most important difference is that you are guaranteed lower sulphites. There are many other intrants allowed in conventional wines that are not allowed in organic so overall you are also guaranteed a purer wine with less additives in the winemaking process.

    Organic producers have seen an increase in costs of our certification so that the certifier can guarantee you these things plus we need to have installed more rigourous processes particularly to meet the lower sulphites. Every wine type that is bottled is collected and analysed for sulphite level to offer you this guarantee.

    It is thus very important that the end consumer knows about this guarantee but everyone visiting us has not heard of the new rules or this process that offers you the guarantee of the new rules. Please share this information and help spread the word. We need consumers that are interested in healthier wine to know.

    New organic logo for Europe; only allowed on wines that meet the new organic wine standards. Why is taking note of the level of sulphites important? If you like your wine you could be taking in far more than is recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation). They say around 0.7mg per kg of body weight per day. So a man of 100kg should have about 70mg per day. At EU levels that is just over a third of a bottle of white wine and wine isnt the only product with sulphites in it.

    Some countries have way higher levels than the EU. For example Australia has limit across all wines of 350mg (so more than double the EU for red wines) per litre.

    The new organic wine rules mean lower sulphites. To take a concrete example for red wine the EU norm is 150mg/litre the new organic wine rule is 100mg/litre. for biodynamic Demeter it is 80mg/litre.

    How come we can do lower sulphites without risk? More on this soon.

    Why Organic Wine? Part 9: STOP PRESS: Levels of Pesticides in conventional wine more than 300 times what is allowed in our water!

    The levels of pesticides found in conventional wines and published by a consumer watchdog magazine in France has created a furore.

    A few key points that you must note as a winelover

  • the pesticide residues in the wines tested were on average more than 300 times the amount allowed in our drinking water
  • One wine registered a whacking 3364 times the amount allowed in our water
  • A major and well known extremely large brand of Bordeaux red registered 14 different pesticides including one that is totally banned in France (? bizarre).

    The MESSAGE: watch out for big branded wines and only buy organic certified wine!

    Feely: a bounty of biodiversity

    Why Organic Wine? Part 10: Natural Remedies for you and for our vines

    Some pharma companies would like us to forget that natural remedies abound! The active ingredient for many pills we buy used to come from plants. Those wonderful aromatics in the herb garden aren't just for beauty. Some of the 'strange' biodynamic sprays we concoct and use include:

  • Thyme infused in hot water helps relieve a sore throat and cough. Add honey and lemon for extra pleasure and effectiveness. Thymol - 20-50% of the essential oil from thyme - is an antiseptic and is the main active ingredient in some mouthwashes. Before modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages. Thyme thrives on our farm.

  • Sage is an antifungal that people are experimenting with to solve mildew problems in the vineyard. Apart from tasting good with chicken and being a general cure all in antiquity; modern tests show possible uses as an antibiotic, antifungal, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and general tonic. The name sage comes from latin 'to save' and it is also recommended with honey as a cure for a sore throat. More recently in a placebo-controlled trial, sage was found to be effective in the management of mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.

    Feely: a bounty of biodiversity

  • Willow for helping the vines fight off fungal disease because it is high in salicylic acid which is the active ingredient in aspirin. According to wikipedia the name salicylic acid derives from Latin salix, willow tree, from the bark of which it used to be obtained. Modern industrial production is more likely to be made by treating sodium phenolate (the sodium salt of phenol - a waste product of the petroleum industry) with carbon dioxide at high pressure (100 atm) and high temperature (390K) -a method known as the Kolbe-Schmitt reaction. It is also known for its use in anti-acne treatments. In biodynamics it

    The willow in the photo to the right is at the bottom of hillside vineyard. The vitality of the yellow stems bright coloured like this in winter offers a beautiful contrast to the winter landscape like the rosehips do. The canes were traditionally used for basket weaving.

    If you missed the section above about rosehips we recommend reading that too. Why Organic? Part 7 Hedgerows and Rosehip: natural vitamin c booster

    Why Organic? Part 11: Chemical fertilisers are the start of an infernal cycle

    Chemical fertilisers offer a quickfix increase in yield. They are like steroids. Good for a quick boost but bad for long term vine health.

    Chemical fertilisers have mineral salts that make the vine thirsty so it takes up more water and holds more water in its cells – like we do when we eat salty snacks – the extra water makes them susceptible to fungal disease, meaning systemic fungicide is required.

    Vines create 94% of their dry matter from what they get from the sky, sun, air, moonlight... By giving them chemical fertiliser we make them lazy, they dont need to do the execise they usually do to get their food from the sky - we turn them into couch potatoes and set them up to get sick.

    As explained above not only do the systemic fungicides get into your wine (since they are 'systemic' even if we did wash grapes before making wine- which we dont - they cannot be washed off) they stop beautiful wild orchids and delicious truffles from growing, but most importantly they stop the vine’s natural access to nutrients offered by their symbiotic relationship with mycorrhiza, essential soil fungi. This weakened access to natural food in the soil means more chemical fertilisers are required to achieve the same yield and so on in a never-ending vicious circle that ends with a desert instead of a farm.

    Also as noted above chemical fertilisers used by conventional winegrowers contain a potassium dose that means the chemically farmed vines have lower natural acidity in their grapes and hence in the finished wine, so they need more sulphites. The lower the acidity, the higher the SO2 needs to be. It is a direct inverse relationship, part of the calculation for the level of SO2 required to protect a given wine at the final moment of truth, bottling.

    Why Organic? Part 12: a little history and the circle of life - yes that includes you

    Farming like most things in life is a circle. You mess with one part and you will pay later. Its all connected. We explain this on visits at the farm where seeing is far more effective than reading.

    A little history on the development of farming. Until around 1970 almost all farming was organic. The change started with the creation of nitrates for cannonballs began in the late 1800s. As demand from World War One dropped, the nitrates were recycled to become agriculture’s first chemical fertiliser. With excessive plant growth from nitrates came more pest and disease problems. The next step was the creation of pesticides, including fungicides, by recycling killer chemicals created during World War Two. The third wave was the creation of herbicides like Agent Orange, used during the Vietnam War to destroy the crops of anti-government forces.

    These chemicals are routinely used on our food, unless it is certified organic. They create large profits for agricultural chemical companies.

    One of the largest agro-chemical companies even call themselves ‘a sustainable agriculture company’ – their new tag line when I looked up their website. It shows what a mockery has been made of the word ‘sustainable’ by industrial agriculture. We must ignore the word sustainable, it means nothing in agriculture today.

    The soil is a key part of the circle of life. We are destroying it faster than ever in the history of the world. In many places scientists estimate there are less than 50 harvests left. We all need to eat so even for city-dwellers this is an important issue. Demand organic.

    Why Handpicked? Part 13

    We handpicked everything this year. It is more expensive so why have we done it? Feely: harvest team 2014
  • our wines are organic and vegan: we dont use animal products in our wine making Machine harvested grapes include many small animals mice, lizards, snakes, we hear even entire rabbits! For red you only find out what was in there when you take the skins out at the end of the winemaking... A ton of grapes, half a snake, one lizard, 2 mice, three quarters of a frog... sounds like a witch's recipe not a recipe for good wine!
  • It isn't just that we dont want a witches brew... it is also about the positive energy, the community and the care of handpicking. When we take such care through our growing season then we start the grapes journey to wine with violent thrashing by a 3 ton machine it doesnt add up. We feel a totally different ambience when we are handpicking, even on the long days, there is a sense of community of working together and of excitement.

    Why Bees? Part 14

    Something guiding our thinking and our work today is biodynamics; a way of approaching agriculture and life. Biodynamic farming rules are 'stricter' than organic. For example with beekeeping bees must be left with enough of their own honey, we cannot take all the honey and replace it with sugar - even if it is organic. Why?

    The bee's honey is packed with immunity boosters, it offers far more than just calories. By leaving them this perfect food we avoid many of the health problems encountered in todays bee populations. Real local honey is a delicacy and helps fight allergies.

    Yes; it is probably significantly more expensive than the honey you will find on the shelf in your supermarket but if you have hives and have harvested the honey you will know how much work goes into it for the beekeeper. Not to mention the bees.

    The bees tap about 4400 flowers and fly about 175 kilometres to make 1 gram of honey. WOW. I feel like I should go and genuflect before our hives in respect.

    Feely: a bounty of biodiversity Did you know that the bees do a dance at the hive entrance to tell the other bees exactly where to find the best flowers that day? Their dance contains the GPS coordinates in bee-speak and saves time wasted searching/ flying. This is where the systemic pesticides called nicotinoids of most dangerous. Some of them are said to not kill bees directly but they work on their nervous system and impact bees’ ability to forage for nectar, to remember where flowers are located, and impair their ability to find their way home. If they impact the bees nervous system we have to wonder if they are also the reason for massive increases in alzheimers and parkinsons among humans.

    The only way to be sure you are not consuming them is to buy certified organic. You cannot wash systemic pesticides off your food.

    You may be wondering why don't we remove the ivy on the vines (vines in left foreground).... Ivy doesn't parasite, it climbs.. and along with biodiversity in the vineyard they offer our bees pollen in winter; one of the few plants that do.

    What is biodynamics? Part 15

    So what is this biodynamics? It's magic! Watch out Harry potter! he he! Feely: a bounty of biodiversityBiodynamics is organics plus. To be biodynamic we must already be certified organic. In plant/ tree farming (including vines) being organic that means the farmer does not use chemical fertiliser, herbicide, systemic pesticides or systemic fungicides. Forgetting all the other effects on the environment on a purely personal note this is important for you as you cannot wash the systemic pesticides or fungicides off your food.

    With biodynamics we go a step further, trying to understand the farm in its environment and creating a biodiverse and mixed farm.

    Put simply biodynamics is three things : thinking of the farm as a whole farm system; working in harmony with the calendar of the earth's movements in relation to the moon, planets and constellations (think of the effect of the moon on the tides of the sea and the imagine its effect on the water content and flow in a plant) and plant and animal based homeopathic-type preparations to aid the plant to grow and protect itself.

    Sounds crazzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeee? I was a sceptic until I saw what a difference it made to our vineyard and to our wines. Since going biodynamic we have decreased our dose of copper for combatting downy mildew fungal disease - this can be a problem in our region - from 6kg/ ha (the max allowed in organic) to 1,5kg/ ha and with this 25% have less mildew than when we started out using the maximum. Our vines are more resistent to disease and our wines taste better.

    A few words on each of the biodynamic tools:

  • The Biodynamic Calendar: This plots the movements of the earth, moon and other planets indicating the best times to do things on the farm and in the garden. I encourage you to experiment; try it in your garden or taste your favourite (ideally biodynamic) wine on a fruit day then on a root day to see the difference. You can get your own calendar Maria Thun Biodynamic Calendar online
  • The Preparations: These include the core 500 (cow dung in a cow horn - don't ask me why - we just know that it has more than 10 times the microbiological activity of the same cow dung without the cow horn) and 501 (an extremely fine dust of silica - like little mirrors - that help to bring light into the vines at key moments) preparations and other plant based teas and extracts for helping plants immunity. We love nettle, willow and oak bark. We will include more detail on this in another newsletter.

    To be truly biodynamic a vineyard should be part of a whole farm system and be able nourish itself with enough mixed farming to meet its fertility needs (we need a herd of cows).

    Why Organic? Magic Mushrooms Part 16

    Feely: a bounty of biodiversity and magic mushrooms Beautiful wild orchids flower in our vineyard. It is not only beautiful - it is a sign of a healthy living soil.

    Orchids are dependent on mycorrhizae, a special fungus that develops on the root systems of the majority of plants - 95% of those tested so far - and helps them access nutrients in the soil.

    This mutually beneficial relationship came about more than 400 million years ago. The mycorrhizae not only stock and distribute water and nutrients to the plant in exchange for carbohydrates – sucrose and glucose from its photosynthesis- they also act as a communication network between plants. Research has shown that mycorrhizal networks transport carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen, water and defense compounds – compounds that combat attack by something - from plant to plant. They are especially beneficial for plants in nutrient poor soils... and the best wine grapes are grown on relatively poor soil so it is particularly relevant for us winegrowers.

    These magic mushrooms will not develop in chemically farmed agriculture and the plants will be less resistant as a result. Mycorrhizae cannot happen if you use systemic fungicides. If you use chemical fertiliser you will have to use systemic fungicide because you will have made your plants so susceptible to fungal disease. It is a vicious circle.

    They are a little like the microflora in our stomachs. When you taken antibiotics the are destroyed and your health is affected and you need to re-establish them. Microflora help us to extract the nutrients from our food but they also contribute to our health and immunity. They even help prevent cardiac disease: who would have thought?

    The mycorrhizae are even more developed in biodynamic plants than in purely organic and are part of the secret to being able to farm successfully without chemical fertiliser and 'icides. Using the preparation called the 500 helps to develop the life of the soil and the mycorrhizae.

    Why choose organic? Muesli study highlights importance and Caro's top three reasons part 17

    French news has been vibrating with a study released this week that shows that all chemically farmed muesli tested (15 big brands including Kelloggs, Jordans and Alpen) contained pesticide residues while the organic ones (including Jordans) had none. The average of the quantifiable pesticide residues across the non-organic samples was over 350 times what is allowed in our drinking water. Generations Future Study for full details

    Why choose organic is something we ponder on visits at our organic farm. It is as true for muesli as it is for wine. Usually people visiting get the first one below (sometimes said jokingly 'less of a hangover?' perhaps not realising the seriousness of it) but not always two and three below.

    So here goes:
    1. For your health - to avoid taking in chemical residues that give cancer, nervous system disruption and endocrine (reproductive) disruption. Often visitors are vaguely aware of the negative effect of systemic pesticides on their health but perhaps not aware of how direct and exactly what this means. The organic choice is more expensive but as an ecological activist in France says 'I buy organic because I can't afford chemotherapy.'
    2. For the taste. An eu funded long term project comparing chemical, organic and biodynamic vines and wine is ongoing at Geisenheim university in Germany. Since the beginning they have done blind taste tests each year and biodynamic comes first, organic second and chemically farmed last.
    3. For the environment: its no surprise that if systemic pesticides are so toxic that they can kill the farmer if he gets a jet in his face then they are not good for the environment, for our water, for our air, for people living near the farm, for communities, schools, houses in the vicinity and the other living things sharing this planet with us.

    The answer is to buy certified organic - this study highlights this in black and white - and even better local organic to make sure that your immediate vicinity is kept safe.

    Nettle, willow and oak bark - why do they work? And sequestering CO2 to help solve global warming

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    Excellent terroir and organic practices

    Seán pruning in Garrigue vineyard The Feely vineyards follow the steep hillsides of the Dordogne Valley providing autumn-sun slopes. The soil is chalk over clay (similar to nearby St Émilion), forcing the vine roots to search deep into the ground and rock to find nutrients. The vineyards offer a variety of expositions north, east and south facing and are elevated above the valley. The average age of the vines is 30 years and some are more than 50 years old resulting in complex wines. All these factors are keys to fine wine expressive of its place.

    To participate in the journey from vine to wine why not join our Vineyard Share Club? click Vineyard Share to find out more. Or join us for a multi-day vineyard walk? Visit French Wine Adventures.

    Experience the journey from pruning to harvest time read GRAPE JOURNEY.

    Organic and biodynamic Certification

    We follow organic practices in the vineyard to encourage our vines to naturally produce optimal grapes without relying on chemically artificial stimulants and protections. This is more labour-intensive (a lot more handwork) but creates better wine, as well as healthier vines and consumers! We touch each of our vines regularly. The parcels are buzzing with life. Animals and birds are abundant, while beneficial bacteria and organisms thrive in our soil. Our organic methods result in lower (natural) yields and more flavourful wines. The genius of wine is nature – the vine using a miraculous melange of soil and climate. Each parcel is individually cared for and vinified to produce wines of character, distinction and quality. Wines are ‘a living liquid bright with memory’. Each year (climate, conditions, care) and parcel provides different nuances of wine.

    The Garrigue vineyards in Winter Read more about nature at Terroir Feely, our biodynamic practices and our organic vineyard walks by clicking Nature, biodynamics & the Organic Vineyard Trail. To find out more about why organic is important for you as a winelover look at 'Why Organic?'

    We have worked the farm using organic practices since 2005 when we bought it. We started our organic certification with ecocert in 2006. Our 2008 vintage wines are certified in organic conversion. From vintage 2009 our wines are fully certified organic. From vintage 2011 our wines are certified biodynamic as well as organic.

    If you are interested in organic wines and vineyards take a look at our organic vineyard multi-day walking tours or our one day organic wine tour. Visit French Wine Adventures.

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