Biodynamic winemaker faces court for refusing to spray vines with insecticide

A biodynamic winemaker from France faces court and a large fine for refusing to spray vines to protect against disease.

Thibault Liger-Belair, whose Domaine is distributed around Burgundy, has vines in areas including Gevrey Chambertin and Nuits-Saint-George, and he also has a vineyard in Moulin-à-Vent in Beaujolais.
Liger-Belair will appear before court Villefranche-sur-Saône in the Rhône on Tuesday for ‘refusing to perform measures of plant protection’, Decanter reported.

The winemaker says on his website; “The less we maltreat the grape, the better the wine will be. To produce Crus of great purity, without artificial means or abusive extraction is my aim”.

Thibault Liger-Belair practices biodynamic viticulture, a method of organic farming originally developed by Rudolf Steiner. This technique involves the planting and picking of grapes following the phases of the moon: the idea behind this being that everything is connected, including celestial bodies like the moon, planets and stars. Users of this technique claim that it is the only true way to take advantage of the expression of the terroir. There are over 620 biodynamic wine producers in the world.

Inspectors, who visited his Moulin-à-Vent vineyard in November 2013, discovered the vines were not being treated with insecticide. Liger-Belair has stated that he is not obliged to spray to prevent the disease flavescence dorée, despite an order from the Sâone-et-Loire authorities, because he is not technically within the area specified, but in-between two departments.

This is the second case of a Burgundian winemaker refusing to spray vines as a preventative measure in less than a year. Emmanuel Giboulet from the Côte d’Or won a court battle last December: his conviction and a £789 fine was overturned on appeal.
Does the UK consumer care about biodynamic winemaking? Here's what we found out at the London International Wine  Fair when we spoke to some of the industry's key players. 

Written by: Lucy Prosser

Lucy Prosser 


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