You’re probably already thinking, “What a load of rubbish – how could the moon possibly affect fine wine production?” But with so many Bordeaux vineyards switching to biodynamic agriculture in recent decades with fantastic results, the lunar effect is indeed one worth considering.
‘Wines most likely to show any kind of lunar effect will be those farmed biodynamically, because this is the only farming system which actively considers the the vines as part of a wider celestial sphere,’ says Monty Waldin, a biodynamic wine consultant and writer.
The moon and fine wine
The so-called supermoon of 14th November was 14% larger and appeared 30% percent brighter in the sky – the biggest in 48 years.
This environmental phenomenon could affect both the development of 2016 vines and the taste of wines around the world. Waldin suggests two ways in which the supermoon might do this:
- The moon’s proximity to the earth might bring a ‘winter mood’ to plants, whose sap tends to concentrate in the vine roots around this time, making white wine taste less fruity and smell less aromatic, and reds more tannic.
- The brightness of the moon might bring a ‘summer mood’ to plants, reflecting sunlight back to Earth which would otherwise be lost. This, conversely, would make white wines taste fruitier and more aromatic, and reds fuller and rounder.
The ‘right time’ for investment wine
Whatever the effect on 2016 wines, experts agree that the supermoon came at a good time.
Thomas Duroux, CEO of Château Palmer, which works its vineyards according to biodynamic practices, says – “The Supermoon could be beneficial for the living force of our 2016s, which are going through malolactic fermentation. It may also help bacteria become particularly active.”
“It would have been very different in spring time, because it would cause real increase in mildew pressure.”
Bérénice Lurton, of the biodynamic Château Climens in Barsac, agreed that it was lucky the supermoon didn’t arrive in spring.
‘If it had been spring, we would have been clearly under pressure by mildew, as the combination of full moon and lunar perigee impact the rise of water into the earth and plants — to which vine is especially sensitive,’ she explained.
‘We would have then made a horsetail spraying before. But now, we can sleep soundly and enjoy the beauty of the phenomenon, if ever the clouds let us see something.’
Fine wine: the biodynamic way
Biodynamic farmers operate according to the biodynamic calendar, which dictates what work should be done on which days of the year.
According to the calendar, 14th November began as a ‘fruit day’ – a good day for fruiting plants, and wine tasting. But this merged into a ‘root day’ – a favourable day for the development or harvest of root vegetables and tubers – followed by two more root days on 15th and 16th November. Root days are believed to have a negative effect on wine flavour.
Of course, there is much controversy and division in the fine wine world over biodynamic principles, and some followers of the biodynamic way disagree on the idea that the lunar cycles affect the physical taste and development of wine.
But, if not simply for the sake of the Burgundy 2016s, let’s hope the supermoon injects some of its life force into this year’s wines and offers us a pleasant surprise in years to come!