Domaine Bogdan, the organic producer collecting legends

by Wines of Romania
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Domeniul Bogdan

How many years does it take to let people know you exist, in the wine world and beneath it, as a wine producer? How about letting people know you produce eco, or organic, or biodynamic wine, when that is a still small market share, at least in Romania? How many years do you need to change mindsets and reach people by telling a story of an earth full of life, connected to the rest of the universe? Apparently, not many. A longshot, one that seemed impossible at the time, but now seems already won by the Bogdan Estate, a producer that some could accuse of cheating: they used some of the world’s greatest specialists on this journey. It’s a story about investing in the future, without much consideration towards today’s profit.

Episode 1: Philippe Cambie arrives at the Bogdan Domain

In 2016, the Bogdan Estate received the Austria Bio Garantie organic producer certification for its 150 hectares of vineyards, then came the I Vini Biodinamici and the Demeter certifications. Maybe you should look online for the pre-requisites necessary to obtain these certifications, so you can better understand the difference between biodynamic wine and "grandpa’s wine" (my grandfather doesn’t add anything to the wine!").

The man who left his mark on the first wines, the late Philippe Cambie, already had the status of a legend when he arrived in the region of Dobrogea, at the Bogdan Estate winery. Robert Parker had already stated that, if a team of the best oenologists in the world were to be put up, Cambie should be called a coach. Years before that, in 2010, Cambie had received from Parker and the Wine Advocate team the title of Oenologist of the Year. For those who do not know his career -the word on the street is that he single-handedly transformed the Rhone Valley from a region close to oblivion into a symbol appreciated by all wine lovers, all around the world.

Philippe Cambie is among the first great consultants who tried not to sign the taste and flavors of wines but leave a signature onto their soul. At Clos du Caillou, Clos Mont-Olivet, Vieux Donjon or Vaudieu, the wineries he took care of for over 20 years, the wines did not look alike, they did not bear the imprint of a single man, but maintain a sense of the place, the identity and taste of the ground on which they had been born. This philosophy was also implemented at the Bogdan Estate, in collaboration with another guru of biodynamic agriculture, Leonello Anello.

Episode 2: The Bogdan Estate vineyard, managed by an international bio warrant, Leonello Anello

Dr. Leonello Anello is an international warrants of the "I vini Biodinamici / Biodynamic Wines" certification system, who found in the Bogdan Estate the perfect place to implement the principles of biodynamic agriculture and winemaking. "We have grapes that turn into wine. That’s all!", Dr. Anello told us in an exclusive interview, available here Without pesticides, insecticides yeasts, and enzymes, without any substances added to wine, without biotechnology.

The simplest way to understand biodynamic agriculture is, according to Dr. Anello, "respect for Life, in all its forms. It is the foundation of our philosophy: respect for Nature, for the Earth, for plants, animals, insects, for the environment, for the people who work on the farm and especially for the people who consume our wines".

The only substance ever used in the vineyard is copper sulfate, but that too is "directly mined", that is, in its naturally existing form, in natural deposits. Instead, a huge effort is put into having a "living earth", biodiversity, insects, birds and animals, while various crops between the grapevine rows are rotated, between the rows of vines. The leading model is the most complex ecosystem – the forest. Somehow, acknowledging all these things, the Estate’s slogan, "Nature in a glass of wine", gains different meanings.

Episode 3: Derenoncourt, the new Michel Rolland, arrives at the Bogdan Estate

Phillipe Cambie’s departure left everyone in the wine world a bit poorer. Fortunately, his ideas were living seeds and strong concepts, attitudes and orientations have grown out of them. Recently, the winemaking consultant position was taken over by Stephane Derenoncourt’s company, a self-taught man whose story does not resemble the standard stories about decades spent in wineries and cross-generation legacy experience. Stephane Derenoncourt is among the very few celebrities who started from scratch and learned “on the job”, – his life story (in a very short version) is available here:

We’ll just tell you that the Bogdan Estate is in good hands, for now and for the predictable future. When Jancis Robison says that you are the new Michel Rolland (i.e., the most influential oenologist in Bordeaux for the last 30 years), it is obvious that you have already earned your place in history. We are looking forward to the first batches of wines from local grape varieties created under Derenoncourt’s guidance. We have already tasted a Primordial Sauvignon blanc, one that truly has the taste of Bogdan’s Estate – with a floral nose, but one well incorporated in a fruity body, along with acid and mineral accents that make the perfect balance. As in a dictionary definition of balance.

If there is a preliminary moral to the story above, it is that best things are built when working with the best people. And, in this specific case, the best people are those who understand how to let Nature, even Life itself, speak instead of them.


© 2022 Wines Of Romania By Marinela Ardelean

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