Ben Kennedy
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Tasting biodynamically

10th March, 2014 by Ben Kennedy

We all know how biodynamics has become a global topic of interest in terms of making wine, but how important is the lunar calendar when tasting and enjoying the finished product?

Prirodna vinaAdmittedly I’m not always the quickest off the starting blocks, and the link is a fairly straight-forward one, but last week a friend introduced me to a mobile phone app called “When Wine Tastes Best”, and it has really got me thinking. The app is produced in conjunction with a book of the same name which is published annually, and the creators claim that some UK supermarkets only organise their press tastings after having consulted this guide.  I stand to be ridiculed over this for being way behind the curve, but just how important is biodynamics to us as wine professionals, when we taste wines analytically, and how likely are we to be effected in our commercial decisions?  Certainly here in Bordeaux it’s not widely discussed.

I’ve previously been aware of several unpredictable outside influences that can effect the results of my own wine tastings, both objective (weather, atmospheric pressure) and subjective (mood, work pressure), and many colleagues appear to have shared similar experiences, but the concept of following a calendar to get the most out of a wine would suggest that planning to taste wine on a root or leaf day is a professional blunder.

So I’m going to ask for some feedback on this one, and I’ll invite you to give me your thoughts as wine professionals on whether wines do in fact taste better on flower and fruit days.  Many of you may already have a biodynamic calendar that you use, like one buyer I visited in London last week, or you may like to get the book or the app (no, I’m not taking a commission!), but please do post comments on your findings.  And for those of you who will be coming to Bordeaux to taste the 2013 en primeur at the end of this month, many châteaux take part in several events so why not compare the same wines on different days during the week and report back?

After a cursory look at the first four months of this year, it appears that roughly half of the days could be useful to us professionally, by which I mean that at least part of the working day (9am to 6pm) is either flower or fruit, but this is not excluding weekends.  Unfortunately for the bordelais, only two out of the five days of primeur week are looking good, so let’s hope that doesn’t hinder this ‘difficult’ vintage even further…

7 Responses to “Tasting biodynamically”

  1. Too many variables are concerned, generally, when comparing tasting wines on ‘good’ days and ‘bad’ days. An advantage is that some days there can be a matter of only an hour or so between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – I’ve used such days several times to see if I can find a difference. Result – it’s inconclusive. I’m not hostile to the concept, but I don’t follow it, as it hasn’t consistently ‘worked’ for me.

    However you may be interested to know that I was scheduled to have some dental work done last week, but was persuaded by the dentist to defer it to this week as the ‘moon calendar’ wasn’t auspicious then, compared to now!

  2. Don says:

    Ah, biodynamism and astrology, the sciences of the Middle Ages.

  3. Alejandro says:

    Ah, grape vines and stars, around since well before the Middle Ages (and still around today).

  4. Ben Kennedy says:

    Thanks for your comments, all. Not a very balanced response, I was expecting some support for the idea, or do the supermarkets have it wrong?

  5. I believe there is something in it. Example, sampling wines at The France Show earlier this year – same wines/vintages different biodynamic days. Fruit day we couldn’t move. The wines were full of fruit and oozing charisma. Leaf day, certainly greener and a little more closed! Montirius in the Rhône are fantastic ambassadors to the art of biodynamic viticulture.

  6. Matt says:

    I work with one of London’s top wine schools and on a number of occasions have noticed the same wines to show considerably better on fruit and flower days. I never check prior to the wines being tasted so as not to throw in a psychological element to the equation. Obviously there is also bottle variation to be considered as well. Something that has become clear is that wines that are made in a more ‘natural’ way seem to show more of a variation opposed to a large production mass production wine. A bottle of Blossom Hill for example will show far less varience fruit vs. Root day compared to a biodynamic Loire wine (I am in no way advocating coca-cola wines though!). I hope to do a series of far more scientific tastings over the course of the year to further investigate this interesting subject and will report back.

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