Vino: 2003 M. Chapoutier Belleruche

(It’s Monday… time to get your votes in. We haven’t heard a lot from readers this weekend about the wine, so if you tried it, or plan to, speak up.)

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Name: M. Chapoutier
Grape: 50% Grenache, 50% Syrah
Region: Rhone Valley, France
Price: $8.99 to $12.99

I have been trying to think about how Lent relates to wine. For the observant, forgoing wine is generally a part of Lent. For the less observant, Lent can be a time for thoughtful reflection about the foods we consume. I have decided to use this time to seek out a biodynamic wine because of the spiritual approach biodynamic vintners take.

Biodynamic winemaking is like organic winemaking on steroids, mixed with a bit of old world voodoo. Like their organic brethren, biodynamic farmers recognize the impact of chemicals on the earth, choosing natural compounds and predators to protect their crops instead of chemical substances. The difference between these two schools of thought is that biodynamic farmers use the phases of the moon as a timeline for their pruning and fertilizing needs. Believing that the gravitational pull of the earth has an effect on the sap levels in the plants as well as other conditions concerning the soil and climate. This is where the voodoo element enters; biodynamic vintners feel that the plants go through different cycles just like the moon, and respond more agreeably to treatment if you follow the earth’s rhythm.

Our homework for this week is a Côtes-du-Rhône from the biodynamic producer M. Chapoutier. Some of Chapoutier’s more expensive wines rival the best wines in the world. Fortunately, he makes a basic Côtes-du-Rhône affordable enough for all of us to try. This should be a full-bodied, spicy red, hearty enough to warm chilled bones this wintry weekend.

Stores: PJ Wine (4898 Broadway, between 204th and 207th Streets), Acker Wines and Spirits (160 West 72nd Street, between Broadway and Columbus), and K & D Wines and Spirits (1366 Madison Avenue, between 96th and 97th Streets).