Monday, March 29, 2010

Lunar Cycles and Wine Showings

I'm starting to believe in the influence of lunar cycles on wine. I'm not saying that wine is better if it's made biodynamically, I'm not trying to tell you what you should do, there is no dogma here. I'm talking about what I'm finding regarding the days when wine shows well and when it doesn't. I haven't done any kind of study, although I might soon try to do just that. But through casual conversations with people who know and love wine, I'm finding that when a wine doesn't show well it turns out to have been a root day or a leaf day. And when a wine shows great, it turns out to have been a fruit day or a flower day.

Disclaimer: I've only been paying attention to this for a few months and following along myself for a few weeks since reader TWG kindly emailed me a copy of the 2010 calendar. And there have been exceptions.

But I kid you not, the calendar has been so reliable that I'm starting to plan dinners and tastings around it. And I'm already at the point where I cannot imagine opening a special bottle unless it's a fruit day.

Listen to this: on Saturday we had our friends Clarke and Sophie over for dinner and we opened 7 bottles of wine. Lest you think that we are lushes, we didn't drink all of the wine, only most of it. Every single wine showed spectacularly well. And yes, it was a fruit day. On its own this means absolutely nothing, of course. But when was the last time you drank (not tasted) 7 bottles of wine in an evening and every one of them showed beautifully? The last time I drank this many wines in an evening was the Savigny-lès-Beaune night I hosted and nothing showed very well. It was a root day, as it turns out. Check that, I drank loads of wine the other day at Levi's luncheon, and they showed very well, for the most part. It was a flower day, and it was the only favorable day for drinking that week until Friday. I wonder, did Levi check the calendar before choosing the date of the lunch?

Who really knows what's going on with these things. I put a period at the end of that sentence because it is a rhetorical question. So please don't get riled up in the comments - I'm not trying to convert anyone, I'm not making any kind of argument, and I haven't done enough to know how I feel about this yet. But as you have surmised, I am greatly intrigued.

And by the way, the wines from Saturday night really were superb. Here is what we drank and ate:

NV Equipo Navazos La Bota de Manzanilla Nº 16, $39, Eric Solomon Selections. Imported by European Cellars. We drank this with my first ever attempt at scallop ceviche. The wine was the essence of Manzanilla, although in drinking the leftovers two days later (on a root day) I can say that it would benefit from a few years of bottle age. It was delicious, but burly and assertive when we drank it, and now it is completely harmonious and gorgeous.

2005 Damien Laureau Savennières Le Bel Ouvrage, $32, Jon-David Headrick Selections, Imported by European Cellars. My favorite Savennières producer right now, Laureau's wines are consistently delicious and very expressive. Bel Ouvrage, anyway, as I've never had his other cuvée called Les Genêts. my first time with the '05, this wine showed more overtly fruity than any other Laureau wine I've had. That's to be expected from 2005, but it was also very floral and mineral with an almost powdery sense to it, and with great poise and balance. I loved this wine and imagine that it will age very well.

2006 Paolo Bea Arboreus Umbri Bianco, $66, Neal Rosenthal Imports. My first time with Arboreus, or any of Bea's white (orange) wines for that matter. This is a local strain of Trebbiano that spends lots of time in contact with the skins and then lots of time on the lees. It was incredible in that the aromas were absolutely the purest of orange fruit, fresh juicy and vivid orange and tangerine. Some rocks too, but I was wowed by the fruit. We drank this and the Savennières with flounder baked in parchment paper (look out, my fish monger is back at the market).

2001 Azienda Agricola La Torre Brunello di Montalcino, $69, Neal Rosenthal Imports. Beautifully rich and dark cherry fruit and a bit of soil. Delicious, but came across as a bit one dimensional on night one. One dimensional in a hedonistic and delicious way. This is probably because the wine simply needs time. I drank the remnants the following evening (still a fruit day) and the wine was utterly superb, showing everything I would hope for from a Brunello. A beautiful interplay of pungent leathery earth and vivid dark cherry fruit, an herbal finish that really resonates, clarity and purity - this wine was a bit of a revelation for me.

1986 Château Simone Palette Rouge, $50, Robert Chadderdon Imports. What can I say here? As Clarke put it, this was a great example of a noble old wine. The nose was of the forest, and very mellow, while the palate was fresh and vibrant, still showing good acidity, and showed that seamlessness that makes it silly to try to describe the flavors. The whole package was really quite beautiful. We drank this and the Brunello with braised pork ribs, creamy polenta, and kale.

2001 Domaine de Montbourgeau L'Etoile Cuvée Spéciale, $26, Neal Rosenthal Imports. What a bounty of ripe fruit! Yes, this is made in the under-the-veil style and is gloriously oxidized, but the brightness and clarity of the fruit was amazing. I assumed it was Savagin, but Sophie told us that it is Chardonnay in 2001. This was great with a Vacherin du Jura, the creamy cow's milk cheese that is wrapped in a band of spruce bark.

And then after BrooklynLady's delicious home made chocolate pudding we drank a bottle of 2002 Huet Vouvray Pétillant, $33, Robert Chadderdon Imports, because we were a bit drunk and it just seemed like the right thing to do. A great showing there, as well. I loved how completely woolly the wine was, compared with the flowery fruit and crystalline shimmer of the Savennières - such wonderfully different expressions of Chenin Blanc.


Anonymous said...

Please share the calendar!

TWG said...

The scheduling madness isn't my fault, although I hope I warned you about the contraints of following the biodynamic calendar.
This week isn't a good one until Sunday.

Joe Manekin said...


Fun stuff, fun stuff. I feel the need to conduct similar experimenting, or at least be aware of which type of day it is in the lunar calendar. Speaking of lunar calendars, Hag Sameach! Hope you had a wonderful seder if that's what you did tonight. For some reason I have a yarmulke on my head and was perusing the Chabad website earlier. Jewish guilt or Jewish intellectual curiosity? Who knows.

Say hi to Brooklyn for me.


Anonymous said...

Levi did not check the calendar regarding fruit days.

Levi only vaguely knew when Passover was this year, actually.

Levi has a date marked out on a calendar that he intends to purchase in the future indicating when he will buy that same calendar, but as he has not purchased it yet, he is unsure which date he picked.


Brooklynguy said...

I cannot share the calendar, as it is a PDF file. But I checked around and the publication can be purchased (aiding little old Ms. Thun who writes it in Germany, I think) for about $20.

thanks again TWG, and I don't mind drinking wine on days that aren't fruit or flower. i just am more careful about which wines now. should i not drink wine all week because of leaf days? that's crazy talk.

back at you Joe.

and Levi, some might say that you really lucked out, as it was the only favorable day for drinking in the entire week. and thanks for referring to yourself in the 3rd person. Brooklynguy has been looking for the impetus to do the same, and now Levi has given it to brooklynguy. brooklynguy will write all future posts and comments referring to himself in the third person.

Anonymous said...

Levi was informed that the 30th of March is a 3rd person day.

Levi told that 3rd person to get out of his apartment, because it is a studio and quite small and Levi doesn't know who this "3rd" person is.


A Bald Man Drinks... said...

I am hearing more and more about this calendar, professionally and personally. I am starting to think it is true, and I enjoyed this post for a couple of reasons.

I have taken Damien Laureau's wines with me on a professional trek from private clubs, to national restaurant chains, to sales, to big retail, and they have never let me down. I had heard, however, that JD Headrick is no longer importing the brand, and that there is, as of yet, no one picking it up...any word on your end?

Secondly, in a couple of years of reading your blog and enjoying it immensely, I have not once seen you admit to drunken enjoyment of a wine. I say this in celebration, because as a restaurant and wine professional, I have built my career on the concept of wine as a convivial beverage, and a little bit of drunkenness is what the term convivial really refers to. I in no way mean to condone drunken revelry for no reason, or the waste of good wine for maximized alcohol, but I feel that the truth lies somewhere between the Wine Spectator and Girls Gone Wild, if you know what I mean. Nice to hear that you really are a man of the people :)

Jason A said...

There's (will be) an app for that

Brooklynguy said...

hey Bald Man - i don't know about any changes regarding who imports Laureau. I would be surprised if it were true that JD stopped working with Laureau, or the other way around. But if it were true, there are several importers I can think of who would leap at the chance. The wines are fantastic and naturally made.

It's funny that you mention the drunk thing. When i wrote that I remember thinking that I've never written anything like that before. I'm pretty sure that I was a man of the people before I wrote that, but i understand what you're getting at. And thanks for the very kind words about my blog and for reading for so long.

Jason - thanks for letting us know about this - such a great idea.

David McDuff said...

Gotta say, Neil, that I've given plenty of thought to the lunar cycle and root/flower/fruit days in the context of farming but still really haven't put them into practice when it comes to tasting. Even though it's still early in your exploration, you've painted a pretty persuasive picture. Guess I've gotta try it.

Jon-David said...

I'm afraid that there is no truth to the rumor that we are no longer working with Damien Laureau. However, it's certainly fair to say that we could be selling more of them! They are really brilliant.


Steve L. said...

Call me skeptical, even though I've met several old world vignerons who insist that phases of the moon have an affect on wine when it's in barrel. For those not willing to invest in the calendar, there appears to be a daily listing (e.g., April 4 is a 'leaf' day) at this U.K. website:

This really isn't the April 1st post, huh?

Unknown said...

Just one comment. Maria Thun's calendar is more precise and on Saturday March 27 the Fruit hours lasted till 5 pm Britsh time, so in NY till noon, with "other planetary influences" taking over at that time and lasting till noon on the next day. This "other planetary influences" period is translated into "avoid" in Thun's wine drinker's calendar.

Anonymous said...

just tried the 2001 Domaine de Montbourgeau L'Etoile Cuvée Spéciale - fascinating stuff. with an epoisses. i think i'm in love... looking forward to having more (although mine was more like $30).

The calendar sounds fascinating, a pdf format should not be a deterrent....