Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Flower and Fruit days

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

I’m still trying to get my head around ‘When Wines Tastes best: A biodynamic calendar for wine drinkers‘ (Maria and Mathias Thun). This specifies root, leaf (bad) days from fruit and flower (good) days – based on the moon’s passage through the zodiac and the association of each constellation with the ancient four ‘elements’ of earth, air, fire and water. Mad? Maybe – but major supermarkets have deliberately chosen fruit and flower days for their press tastings …

Last Friday after a particularly successful little tasting of Grenache-based wines, I asked the thirty participants which category of day they thought it was. All but two (who weren’t sure) felt that it must be a fruit or flower day. It was a root day – presumably good only for ginger beer or poteen. Yesterday I thought that Viniportugal’s mini tasting in Newcastle led by Tiago Alves de Sousa, a very gifted young winemaker from the Douro, was a great success despite a dark, gloomy day and the stink of coal smoke around Jesmond Dene House. The wines showed very well indeed, especially his own spectacular Abandonado. It was leaf day. Should I have stayed at home and  stuck to tea?

Seriously (if this is worth taking seriously at all – and I really feel that biodynamic wines are far too good to be treated as a joke), how can one set up a reasonably sensible, empirical test to test whether ot not the Biodynamic Calendar has any affect at all on how we perceive wine? At the moment, I’m inclined to think that it’s baseless hogwash, but I hope that the incidence of a fruit day on Thursday bodes well for the Terroirs et Signatures tasting of Burgundy wines at Lord’s on Thursday. Watch this space.

The best book on Champagne for years

Monday, November 30th, 2009

I’ve already ordered several copies for presents of Michael Edward’s superb new book, ‘The Finest Wines of Champagne’, Aurum Press, London – easily available (discounted too) via Amazon. It’s beautifully written, authoritative and yet gentle. The photographs are superb too (by Jon Wyand). It’s a series of succint profiles of the best Houses and Growers by a man who not only really knows them, but who loves them. Although any personal selection will always invite a debate about why some growers have been included and others left out,  I find Michael’s choices extremely persuasive. I love it, and I hope that others will too. If only more wine books could be as good!