In the words of one famous Burgundy winegrower, if the vine is to give of its best, it has to suffer. And in Burgundy, suffer it does! Some of the vines look as if they are growing straight out of the rock, with barely an inch or two of soil cover. However the Grand Cru vines are to be found in the middle of the slope, where the upper part of the root is in stony soil, and the lower part is able to thread its way into fissures in the rocky sub strata.
Vines in Burgundy planted in these conditions, can age for more than 100 years, and are capable of penetrating beyond 20 m in depth. Nobody quite knows why, but the deeper the roots go, the more complex and nuanced the taste of the resulting wine. In the hands of a good winemaker, wine that is capable of generating paroxysms of ecstasy - or perhaps a bit less melodramatically, leave a pleasant memory! And the magic that goes on down there in the sub strata, when it comes to the surface via the roots, mutates into a whole industry of employment, for all those from the grape pickers, to the wine makers, to the wine writers, and bloggers and so on….
And this multi faceted wine appreciation business has not developed overnight. It is not like the internet, where if you do something that doesn’t work, you change it. This is a business that has been going for well over 1,000 years, and it all depends on a narrow plot of land in Burgundy that barely registers on Google maps, which cannot be deleted to start again.
So why take the risk? That is the question for wine drinkers to answer. We know why wine makers take the risk, but why do we the consumer?
Pesticides kill just about everything apart the vine, the worms that oxygenate the soil, and the fungi that aid decomposition of inert matter, upon which the roots of the vine feed. And once the soil is dead, so is the wine - flat, no fruit, no complexity, nuances or magic, just tasteless liquid and alcohol. That is what is known to happen with heavy use of pesticides.
So what are the consequences of the moderate use of pesticides over a prolonged period? The answer- nobody knows. It has never been tried before.
So - why take the risk when it is not necessary? That is the question.