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Sebastian Payne, MW

Olivier Bernard, the ebullient owner of Domaine de Chevalier in Pessac-Léognan, a Bordeaux château currently very much on form, showed off a fascinating range of vintages to members in London and Leamington Spa last year. He is increasingly persuaded that you need a sixth sense to care properly for your vines, one that is tuned and very observant of the natural world around you. Phases of the moon and fruit and root days matter.

Paul Simons, whose daily column in The Times, Weather Eye, is a mine of wonderful information, explains that most scientists remain sceptical of any link between the weather and the new and full moon.

"The moon and the weather may change together But change of the moon does not change the weather"

A full moon has been linked to slightly fewer bouts of heavy rainfall, and highly accurate satellite measurements revealed that a full moon slightly raises night-time temperatures by about 0.02°C on average. None of this explains the feelings that vignerons who have worked in the vines all their life still have.

Olivier Bernard's long-standing friend and vineyard manager, Rémi Edange, says that you prune young vines on fruit days when the sap rises to curb their vigorous growth. You plant out on root days. If you work in the vines and watch them every day, you just know when this is. We used to be told it was best to bottle from cask when the moon was on the wane, but I don't think any modern cellar manager believes that any more.

Sebastian Payne MW
Wine Society Buyer

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