“Biodynamics turned my head upside down”

By Tobias Webb

Interview with Stella Di Campalto, on making classic Brunello


Here’s a podcast interview with Stella Di Campalto, biodynamic winemaker based near Montalcino in Tuscany. In the interview, I ask Stella about the wines she makes, how she makes them and how biodynamic winemaking works in Tuscany.

I first came across Stella’s wines a couple of years ago during a visit to the hilltop village of Montalcino.

The sommeliers in one of the many excellent restaurants there introduced me to her 2009 Riserva.

It was a breath of fresh air after tasting a lot of fruit forward Parkerised wines during the trip. I’ll be honest about Brunello.

In my view “Americanisation” or “Parkerisation” has made so many of the wines too fruity, too ‘forward’ drinking, oaky, and frankly over priced.

Out of 40 odd wines I tasted hers was easily in the top five, alongside Poggio di Sotto, Poggio Antico (one vintage, I think the 2001), Conti Constanti (riserva 2004) and some older vintages of Talenti (I think the 1997 but it may have been 2001).

Anyhow. I digress. What’s brilliant about Stella’s wines is the combination of the traditional approach and the fact they can drink younger than many others. Perhaps this is due to her biodynamic approach, perhaps it’s due to the land (to which she gives all the credit).

Her story is fascinating, and well worth listening to. So here it is, below, and you should taste her wines, if you can find them. Raeburn Fine Wines has them in the UK, but stocks are very limited. I think she only made 5000 or so bottles of the 2011, her latest release.

She only farms five or so hectares under vine but the difference between the parcels (again perhaps due to the biodynamic approach) is marked.

I know this because her Benedetta wine (named after her daughter) is made from just once parcel, and you can really taste the land compared to the Riserva, which is made, of course, from all those under vine.

It’s really amazing to me how one hectare or so, can be so distinct from the sum of the parts. Is it the land, is it biodynamics? My guess is, it’s probably both.

Enjoy the interview. Her story is an intriguing one. Click below to listen.


About the author

Tobias Webb

Toby Webb is co-founder of Sustainable Wine. He is also founder of Innovation Forum, a leading platform for change in sustainable supply chains. He has spent 20+ years working in business and sustainability and has spent ten years teaching the subject at various London universities. He advises a number of companies large and small on sustainability. Businesses he has worked with include Patagonia, Interface, Bayer, SOK Group, Boots/Walgreens, Metro, Unilever, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser, Sainsbury’s, and many others. He co-authored the UK’s national CSR strategy for David Cameron from 2006-10. He has been organising events, advising, teaching writing, blogging and podcasting on sustainable business since 2001. His (non-wine) blog is at www.sustainablesmartbusiness.com