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Biodynamics are ’emotional black magic’: Richard Smart

The organic and biodynamic winemaking lobby uses 'emotional black magic' to get its message across, a prominent consultant will argue in a debate next month.

Image: Monty Waldin

Viticulturalist Richard Smart is going head to head with biodynamic evangelist Monty Waldin (pictured) in a debate at the London headquarters of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

They are equally passionate in their views. Smart says his approach to viticulture is ‘based on conventional science, and not emotional “black magic”.’

‘Organic [and] biodynamic producers considerably overstate the benefits of their approach to wine quality, consumers’ health and the environment,’ he argues.

In the opposing corner, Waldin believes the ‘tastiest, healthiest grapes’ are produced when Nature is ‘stewarded not enslaved’.

Both men are highly-qualified: Waldin has worked as a winemaker and published numerous books on biodynamic farming, including the Biodynamic Wine Guide 2011, and Smart is a PhD who has written more than 350 articles on wine and was included in Decanter’s Power List 2005.

Smart promises to ‘challenge audience perceptions about environmental degradation in vineyards’ and will argue strongly ‘against any wine trade support for organic and biodynamic wines’.

For his part, Waldin will argue that a biodynamic vineyard should be a ‘self-sustaining living organism‘ that will ‘put back more than it plunders’ from the land.

The debate will be chaired by Antony Moss MW, WSET’s research and development director. It takes place at the London Wine & Spirit School, 39-45 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3X. Tickets cost £35 and are available here.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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