Monty Waldin’s recent TV series, Chateau Monty, detailed one wine writer’s attempts at making biodynamic wine in the south of France. Biodynamic agriculture is a curious mix of (pseudo)science first suggested by Rudolf Steiner (who also created an educational movement, the Waldorf schools) which revolves around extreme care of the soil (easy to accept) and the harnessing of cosmic forces through the use of special preparations of cow manure and herb extracts (less easy).
So far, so wacky, although there are numerous, very serious, winemakers working to a biodynamic calendar, including Nicolas Joly at Coulée de Serrant in the Loire, and Domaine Leflaive in Burgundy, both of which are at the very top of the quality ladder. I have no agricultural training and cannot make an informed judgement either way. However, one part of the biodynamic calendar is the labelling of specific days as, for example, root and leaf days, when specific tasks should be carried out in the field depending on the cosmic forces at play on that day.
And this is the reason why I’m writing about biodynamics, as there has been some discussion about whether the taste of wine varies between days, and whether professional tastings should be organised according to the calendar to get the best results. I’m told that the best days for tasting are root days, and I’m convinced that some days wines simply taste better (biodynamic or not) than on others. Every afternoon we open a bottle of each wine delivered to our depot on that day as a QC check. Some days are distinctly gloomy as we just can’t get enthusiastic, whereas on other days all the wines seem to sing. Why is this I wonder?