This recent interview with Chris Scott of the UK Wine Show is a quick summation of bits of my career but is easier to digest than pages of online text. But in a nutshell I have been writing about wine – mainly Biodynamic, organic and what is now called ‘natural’ wine – since 1995 for various magazines including Decanter , plus various newspapers and journals in the UK and elsewhere.
I often speak about biodynamic wine (what is it, how to make it) and the next chance to hear me is at this event at Hawkwood College in Stroud, Gloucestershire on 16-18 October 2015. There will be some delicious organic and biodynamic wines to taste too.
My main focus however has always been organic and biodynamic wine, although I have also written a detailed reference book on Biodynamic Gardening which was published in both e- and print versions by Dorling Kindersley in early 2015 (here is a review of the book). I wrote the first independent guide to organic wine in 1999. This was voted the UK wine guide of the year. I followed it with another award-winner, the first book on Biodynamic Wines which was published in 2003 but which is now way out of date.
A more up-to-date and comprehensive version is Monty Waldin’s Best Biodynamic Wines.
If you are a wine-grower then Monty Waldin’s Biodynamic Wine-Growing: Theory & Practice – available in both print and electronic forms – might be of more use. This explains the background to biodynamics (the world’s first organic farming movement, and for me still the best), plus the practical nuts-and-bolts of biodynamic wine-growing, like making the biodynamic preparations, compost, and herb teas, plus suggestions as to which celestial cycles are worth farming to and why.
I also contributed entries on organics, biodynamics, cover crops, sustainable wine-growing and orange wine to the latest edition of Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW’s Oxford Companion to Wine (2015).
Wine has been seen by TV moguls as not being very TV-friendly, but I am one of the very few wine writers lucky enough to have had their own TV series (before me in the UK I think only Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson MW and Oz Clarke could make such a boast). My show, Chateau Monty, was a documentary made by TigerAspect for Channel 4 in the UK and subsequently screened in various markets worldwide. The series followed my journey to make a biodynamic red wine from a vineyard I rented in France’s Roussillon region in 2006-2008.
Since then I have advised wine-growers in both Europe (I speak French and Italian) and South America how to make the switch to more sustainable ways of growing grapes. I usually start by explaining how as a small boy and with my dad I’d make organic compost for our vegetable garden by collecting leaf mould and cow manure locally, turning a free natural resource into food. The hardest part of organics is having an open mind. If you are well organised then doing it is child’s play.
My latest project in 2014-2015 involved making ‘Monty’s Pet Nat’, the first ever pétillant naturel in England, from Demeter-certified biodynamic Chardonnay grapes grown by Nick Wenman at Albury Vineyard in Surrey, England. A pétillant natural is simply a wine – white in this case – that is bottled whilst it is still fermenting, producing a slightly cloudy (due to the wild yeast) wine with a light spritz. The grapes were picked in autumn 2014 and the wine was released in May 2015 at the RAW fair in London. Ant Palmer of SeaBlueMedia, who directed the Chateau Monty TV series, filmed the Pet Nat story and the episodes (bite-sized at about 3-minutes on average) about are free-to-view here.