While many of our friends and colleagues in Hong Kong and Singapore were enjoying mooncakes and celebrating the Mid-Autumn festival, it got us thinking about the roll of the lunar calendar in winemaking. As you can expect, one can’t go too far in discussing the role of the moon before coming to Biodynamics, the moon-based scientific approach to farming introduced in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher Rudolph Steiner.
While many aspects of Biodynamics are widely accepted notions of biodiversity and sustainability within each farm (or in this case vineyard), today we’re going to focus on the more controversial elements of the system. Often derided as mystical or astrological, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association describe their practice as “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture, and one that has found fanatical devotees and produced some of the world’s finest wines.
The Lunar calendar to which Biodynamics adheres divides days into four categories based upon what part of a plant a given product is made from, be it flower, leaf, root or fruit. Wine, being fruit-based is said to taste best on those days which are classed accordingly. As such, expect a cup of oolong or peppermint tea to taste best on a leaf day and so on. By the same token, a G&T or a Mojito would be good choices for a root or leaf day.
“The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association describe their practice as “a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture.”
While evidence for the benefits of Biodynamics is largely anecdotal it is hard to refute the trend that wineries which follow this lunar approach to their wine production are making exceptional wine, whether they take on board everything Steiner suggests or certain aspects ad hoc. Among wineries who are fully Biodynamic are Beaucastel (Rhône), Huet (Loire), Seña (Chile) and Jacques Selosse (Champagne).
The trump card is Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. Though owner Aubert de Villaine seems reluctant to acquiesce to his winery’s exalted status, he is eager to embrace more romantic notions of working in conjunction with the lunar cycle and the earth; a holistic approach to nature. Like all biodynamic vineyards on the planet, Romanée-Conti and La Tâche are organisms in and of themselves in symbiosis with the earth and indeed the cosmos.
Whether you subscribe to the Biodynamic school of thought or think it’s a load of nonsense, you can’t deny the wines it makes are tantalising. Whether by the influence of the moon or not, Biodynamics is yielding sterling results.