Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 21 January 2011

Leaf, fruit, flower and root days: do they really make a difference?

Part of the view from the Decanter tasting room: chimney of Tate Modern and St Paul's

The biodynamic calendar is divided into four types of day – leaf, fruit, flower and root. Wine is believed to taste at its best on fruit days when it will be more expressive and less well on the other days.

Over the last two days I have been involved in a Decanter magazine tasting of Saumur red, Saumur Le Puy Notre Dame and Saumur-Champigny. Like the rest of the panel I was looking forward to tasting some lovely wines. Sadly many of the wines we tasted yesterday were very disappointing, closed up, tannic and lacking charm. Having tasted a number of delicious 2009s recently I was very surprised.

After the end of yesterday's tasting – we assessed between 30 and 35 wines, I went on to the Charles and Philippa Sydney's Loire tasting at the Royal Society of Arts. Here the whites, especially 2010 Muscadets and various 2010 Sauvignons were showing well. The reds, however, which included some wine that I had tasted very recently and liked were as dumb as the reds from Saumur in the Decanter tasting. This was confirmed by Charles Sydney who wondered where all their fruit had gone.

A plausible explanation arrived this morning as it was immediately obvious that many of the remaing wines were showing much more attractively today than yesterday. Tasting over we discovered that today was a fruit day. Whether this was the factor or there were other atmospheric changes or changes of pressure, etc, I'm not sure. However, the wines generally tasted better today. Did the wines change? Did we? Or did both change?


Anonymous said...

And what about hangover days?

Luc Charlier said...

No, not you Jim, for one !
I got ostracized from Fiona Beckett’s blog because I expressed the view that those fruit and so on days were an “insult to human intelligence” – hardly rude talking or bad education. I know, I’m no Brit (remember Stiff Little Fingers?) but still.
I sympathize with biodynamic people in so far as they resort to organic farming and try to stick to their “terroir” and reduce the yield – to me the right way to approach agriculture and even more so grape growing. But most of them are either naive lunatics with no scientific back-ground whatsoever – allright with me but then don’t try to teach others lessons – or full blown cheat (like Nicolas Joly, there I go).
Of course, every day God makes (I’m an atheist, by the way) is different and our senses react differently: atmospheric pressure, pollution, partial pressures of many gasses, tiredness, hormonal status (the menstual cyclus in females): this is the explanation.
Moreover, we needn’t be able to EXPLAIN everyhing we observe. We just have to witness (testimony). There’s no need for magics or Steiner’s.
Some days ago, I opened up a Ch. Musar - from the Lebanon (please note the article, not bad for a non-English native speaker) 1979. The level was low, the cork stopper was a catastrophy (as any of its kind) and the wine was ... orange and very volatile indeed. I poured it into a decanter for 30 minutes and it got darker and darker as time went by and the Guinea-fowl I had prepared (free range) was a perfect match afterwards, one of the very best bottles I had drunk for ages. We don’t need Akasha’s chronicle to understand (and appreciate) the evolution. Redox-status is all it takes.
My rule of thumb: beware of low atmospheric pressure, beware of tiredness, beware of high expectations, beware of Bordeaux top growths (they are always disappointing).
Signed: your Léon forever.

Jim's Loire said...

Luc. I have no wish to raise your blood pressure. However, Loire reds tasted like dogs yesterday and were much closer to singing bears this morning.

Atmosphere pressure affecting us as well as the wines? Leaves, roots and fruits? I raise the question.

Jim's Loire said...

Anon. Hangover days can occur at any time but may last loger on leaf days...

Anonymous said...


I suppose we will all have to start inclduing notes about the climatic conditions and perhaps fruit and flower days etc on all out tasting notes. Obviously wine tasting is an art, not a science, but if we find there is a consistent difference when we drink the same wine on different days and then relate that to climatic conditions (or whatever), you might be able to draw some conclusions - I share Luc's doubts about bio-dynamic methods - we cannot get around the unscientific nature of the practises, but equally we cannot ignore the fact that bio-dynamic growers make better wine. Now, personally, I put it down to the fact that bio-dynamic wine methods call for a lot more care, love and skill from the grower and that is duly reflected in the wine they make - but then what do I know about it,


Andrzej Daszkiewicz said...

Jim, I have at hand Maria Thun's biodynamic calendar "When wine tastes best" for 2011 (which I was told is the most popular one) and both January 20 and 21 are marked as belonging to the "other" category, in which one is supposed to avoid tasting wine at all "due to other planetary influences coming into play". The "fruit day" apparently started only a few hours ago, 1 pm on Saturday (and the previous one ended at midnight Jan 14). So your source had been using another biodynamic calendar. In fact there are several versions of it, in many cases contradicting each other, which in my opinion says a lot about the whole BD ideology.

Jim's Loire said...

Andrzej. Many thanks for your clarification.It was someone at Decanter, who said that Friday was a fruit day. I'm not sure which version of the calendar they were consulting.

Anchois said...

Biodynamics belongs to astrology and homeopathy in my book and its all b*ll***s. Reversion to the mean is the reason behind these so-called faiths.

Anonymous said...

hangoverdays, sympathizing with biodynamic people ... all very nice. it shows what's on the commentarors' minds, yet is not the point. You do not DRINK wine on fruit days. That would have no effect. You HARVEST the grapes on fruit days. That does make a difference. I like to say the sun or the moon shines for everyone. You don't have to believe in either. It's up to the interested mind to study the subtle and not so subtle effect they have on life.