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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Differences in Alsace between supporters of the two chief biodynamic certifying organisations, Biodivin and Demeter, threaten to arrest the movement's progress in the region, according to Christophe Ehrhalt of Josmeyer & Fils. Speaking to Harpers at a Pol Roger portfolio tasting in London on 23 January, Ehrhalt, son-in-law of Jean Meyer and now in charge of viticulture at the highly regarded estate which converted to biodynamics in 2001, criticised some biodynamic producers as too extreme and too systematic.' He said he prefers what he calls biodynamie raisonne'. I always try to do the minimum, to treat once - at the right time - rather than four or five times.' Ehrhalt believes that Biodivin's star is in the ascendant, as it is less autocratic and more wine-specific' than Demeter, which requires growers to practise polyculture. But he insists that until Biodivin's agenda is clearer, I don't want to be in any one church. I want to listen to everybody, and adapt their ideas to my own estate. I want to find my own way.' He said he is one of the few producers who listens to both of Alsace's leading biodynamic consultants - Francois Bouchet and Pierre Masson. While both attempt to stay above the fray, the former is closer to Biodivin in his overall philosophy, the latter nearer to Demeter. Ehrhalt emphasised the need for dialogue among biodynamic producers: If we all attempt to stand alone, we will easily be crushed by those who are not in favour.' And while he believed it too optimistic to hope that Biodivin and Demeter would merge in the near future, as he would like, he still thought that most Alsace producers would belong to one or the other by 2005, with roughly 70% in Biodivin and 30% in Demeter.