BIO SANS PAPIERS or ‘BSP, term used by French wine-growers meaning to farm organic or biodynamic standards but without signing up for official independent certification. Growers who eschew certification use two main weapons to defend their decision. The first is the cost–of spotless record-keeping, the need to be present during on-site inspections, the need to re-design wine labels, and the fees levied by certification bodies (normally a flat fee plus a levy on the value of every bottle sold). Their second argument holds that the rules for organics Biodynamics are far too lax and “anyway we go beyond organics, biodynamics.”

Some of the producers in this amorphous category are exemplary wine-growers and winemakers, who put more effort into organics and Biodynamics than some of the their certified peers do, have (in some cases) been doing it for longer and before it became fashionable, and justifiably bridle at having to do the paperwork for minimum certification criteria they not only satisfy but easily surpass.

Others however are opportunists whose cavalier approach to basic micro-biology in the winery would land them in jail if they were selling fresh dairy produce, or raw fish or raw meat for example. The only wine that has ever made me physically angry in 30 years of being involved in wine came from a natural wine guru in Sicily, a cloudy red with bits of black floating around in it and whose smell, let alone taste, made me nearly retch (I tasted it 2014).

On a practical level, the discipline of good record-keeping that certification demands can allow some farmers to gain a more precise idea of exactly how the annual farming and winemaking budget is being spent. In addition, wines with organic & Biodynamic certification are now being prioritised over those that don’t by powerful trade buyers, eg. by government-backed alcohol monopolies in Scandinavia for example, as well as by privately-owned retailers such as LIDL and ALDI.