There’s no doubt that Avondale Wines in Paarl like to do things a little differently. They farm in a ‘Biologic’ system – mostly Biodynamic, but with added bits on the side. Biodynamism – for those not in the know – is a system of farming originating from Dr Rudolph Steiner involving harnessing the forces of nature and integrating natural rhythms into the everyday farming practices. Some of them seem a little strange – burying cow horns for example – but some of them are rooted in sensible ideas and whether you think it’s nuts or not, it does seem to work. All you have to do is to look at the massive success of Burgundy where most of the top farms are worked biodynamically, taste the wines and see the prices they can achieve.
Avondale has some convincing stats to back up their methods as well – over the last decade, owner Johnathan Grieve has reduced his farming costs per hectare to a fraction of those of conventional farmers, whilst maintaining a healthy balance in the soil and the vineyard and producing delicious wines. And now, in conjunction with the Platter Wine Guide, he is investigating the winetasting aspect of biodynamism and asking – do we taste wine differently at different times of the month?
Starting on Monday 14th and stretching over the next 10 days, I and a group of other winetasters and wine lovers, will be tasting and re-tasting the Avondale range of wines. Each of the different days has been designated either a Fruit, Root, Leaf or Flower day by biodynamic guru, Maria Thun, who developed this theory in conjunction with lunar activity and zodiac cycles. The idea is that the same wines should taste differently over the course of the tastings and they will then reveal whether we were able to identify the best days for tasting wine. And yes – if it still seems weird, let me tell you that it’s being taken seriously be several different leading retailers in the UK, who now plan their tasting schedule around the most propitious days for winetasting.
So – Fruit vs Root is the order of the day. Our first tasting on Monday revealed that most of us felt the wines were fairly fruit-packed so does that make it a Fruit day? I don’t know, but I am interested to see if it is just the fruit profile that is affected over these tastings or whether other issues such as integration of alcohol, perception of acidity and overall balance of the wines will also differ. The next tasting is this afternoon so if you want to follow us on Twitter, the hashtag is #LunaTasteTest.
What do you think about all this biological and biodynamic lark?
Lunar or loopy?
PS – by the by, did you know that the word ‘loopy’ implying madness, actually comes from the Latin word for wolf – Lupus – and relates to the whole werewolf myth and the fact that people are stranger when there’s a full moon.
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