Johan Reyneke is one of a small number of winemakers making biodynamic wine here in South Africa. While the practice is still a minority worldwide, the movement includes some of the best winemakers amongst its ranks. Biodynamic is a farming technique where the entire farm is viewed as a living organism, which means as much as possible is recycled back into the earth and no artificial (organic or not) substances are added throughout the farming practices. Winemakers employ a series of unique natural fertilizer formulas and follow a lunar calendar, something that has caused a fair amount of amusement from others, but the results cannot be argued with. Reyneke has won plenty of awards on the local front, and internationally, biodynamic estates like Domaine De la Romanee-Conti and Domaine Le Flaive are of the highest pedigree.
The Reyneke farm in the Polkedraai Hills of Stellenbosch is a serene spot to visit, and those fortunate enough to get a tour with Johan will soon appreciate how different his techniques are to the majority of wineries. Though there are numerous estates turning to this method of farming, they still make a tiny percentage overall.
Participants in Liam’s 20-part course at Chefs Warehouse were fortunate enough to enjoy the Reyneke Pinotage 2008 and Reyneke Reserve 2007 at last week’s class on game, where Liam cooked up game terrine with grape chutney, loin of venison with shallot tarte tatin and a roast saddle of rabbit with Irish black pudding, amongst other things.