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Moonstruck: Two Italian Reds to Love

I was reminded this week of a quote from Albert Einstein. He said, "I like to think that the Moon is there, even if I am not looking at it." I think it gets at the huge influence the moon plays in our lives. The moon itself helps stabilize the Earth, which would be rather wobbly without it. No moon would mean no seasons and extreme ice ages. Not fun.

Then there are myriads of theories on how the moon affects everything on this planet from plants to animals. How they grow, our moods, etc. Well, you can take it with a grain of salt, but this week we were tasting through samples and found that the wines were all tasting a little vegetal, including ones I've always liked in the past. I suddenly leapt up with an Einstein like ‘Ah Ha’, and said, “I bet it is a ‘Leaf day!”

What I was referring to is a biodynamic calendar that tracks the influence of the moon by Fruit, Flower, Root and Leaf days. When you taste wine, the prevalent flavours in the wines are influenced by this calendar. No, I have not been putting on my druidic robes and performing arcane customs with a sickle. It is in fact a serious thing, such that critics, and even buyers from major supermarkets in the UK, never taste wine on a Root or Leaf day. I kid you not, there's something to it.

I referred to my biodynamic wine tasting App, and it confirmed that, indeed, it was a Leaf day. I retried the wines today – a Flower Day, which is an ideal time to taste wines – and the flavours had transformed. The greener, more bitter notes had softened, and the fruit and balance came through.

We fell in love with two Italian reds that I can't wait to pull out next time I'm cooking up something that includes garlic, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Chiara Condello's Tre Vigne 2018 ($26) From the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, this is a bright, fruity wine (think cola nut and cherries), defined by a long tone that lingers in the mouth. It's just the third vintage made by Chiara, a younger winemaker who sprouted wings and makes her own wines from small plots on her parent’s larger estate. The vineyards are sandstone with a high calcareous contact which gives it a lovely savory flavour. This is a quintessential pasta wine and makes me think of a simple ragu on fresh pasta or even a wonderful reduced simple tomato sauce with lumps of fresh mozzarella hiding under freshly torn basil leaves.

COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2015 ($44) This delicious Sicilian wine is an epic combination of Frappato and Nero D’avola grapes. COS is a relatively new winery formed by three great friends, Cilia, Occhipinti and Strano on land that been planted with vineyards since the 3rd century BC. Started as a hobby, this wine was discovered in the 80’s and has since become one of the top wineries in southern Italy. The Nero gives it depth and the Frappato lends perfumed elegance. This is a sophisticated and complex wine, but still beautifully light on its feet. It has notes of pomegranate, orange zest and rich olives, and would be fantastic with veal, and a side of roasted garlic mushrooms with a generous grating of parmesan.

Everyone should run out and download the When Wine Taste Best App and do your own experiments, so you can come to your own conclusions. It would fun to hear what you think. With that I will leave you with a little Druidic Blessing:

When the moon hits your eye

Like a big pizza pie, that’s amore

When the world seems to shine

Like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore

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