What does outer space and galaxies far, far away have to do with great wine vintages?
Nobody seems to know really. But, there is definitely a deeply held belief that somehow these astronomical events influence the biodynamics of outer space and the earth and seemingly have an overwhelmingly positive effect on wine vintages. This somewhat bizarre belief has held its own over the years, appearing in literature here and again.
Arthur Conan Doyle referenced the ‘comet vintage’ in his novel The Adventures of the Stockbroker’s Clerk which was written quite a while ago. But nobody knows when the trend of comet wines first began, all we really do know is that a comet wine is essentially a wine of exceptional quality. Something mystical… The stuff of legend. Most people surmise that it was the Chateau D’Yquem of 1811 (the same year of the Great Comet Flaugergues) that started the whole thing off and has since become one of the most sought after vintages of all time. Even today, people will pay an extraordinary amount of money for a bottle of the stuff. A few years ago, one such bottle of Chateau D’Yquem was auctioned off for £75 000 to a restauranteur to go on display at his new restaurant venture in Bali. The supreme vintage is lauded by wine critics as the most celebrated in history with Robert Parker and Henrik Masson giving it 100 marks. This is almost unheard of in wine circles with excellent wines gaining 97. As one cannot believe that perfection exists. Yet, this comet vintage has earned its accolades and laurels. Described as ‘liquified créme brulee’ this is one of the most sort after bottles in the world.
In The Adventures of the Stockbroker’s Clerk, the wine referred to was an 1858 Margaux. Also a particularly successful vintage. The Donati comet of that year was believed to have positively influenced the vintages of claret that particular year.
So, just what is the fuss about all these rarified vintages?
Well, no one really knows. The only thing that wine makers seem to be able to agree upon is just that there seems a strange coincidence between exceptional wine vintages and years that comets can be seen with the naked eye. And, this is the basic premise. The winemaker has to be able to view the comet in the sky near to harvesting or just prior to harvesting in order for the vintage to be exceptional. Nobody seems to have looked into the science behind it but some cite ‘biodynamics’. This seems to be becoming a buzzword of late in the French wine industry with focus on how to make wines in tandem with the natural rhythms of the earth.
Just a week or so ago, we had a comet 45P pass by earth which was visible to the naked eye, and while this one may not have a direct impact on wine harvesting season in the Northern Hemisphere due to it being winter, it might well affect the vintages of the Southern Hemisphere. Something to consider in the back of your mind when you next purchasing some of the delicious stuff from Argentina or Australia.
And while, we may not be drinking any fancy comet vintages anytime soon, why not get your wine on by sampling a range at wine tasting around Dubai. Many hotels and restaurants are hosting tasting sessions where for a small fee you can get to grips with what you like and don’t.
Here are some of my favourites at the moment:
Famous for serving Japanese and Cantonese cuisine, what most people don’t know is that Hakkasan has one of the most comprehensive, curated selections of wines, whiskeys and sakes in town. ‘The Tuesday Tasting’ is held once a week where you can try out four new ones paired with four dishes. Great care is taken to select the wines and is a great introduction for those new to the experience as well as old-hands.
Join the sommelier and the maître’d of this well-known establishment for a little jaunt around the Mediterranean. Working your way through some gorgeous dishes paired with lovely wines from Spanish rose to French champagne, you will be taken on a delightful sensory experience as part of Boca’s Wine Cellar Experience. Priced at AED 595 per person, it might be a little on the pricey side of things but we think it is well worth it if you are looking for a memorable experience and something different.
Located on the mezzanine level of the Conrad Hotel, this little gem hosts a Meat the Cheese night every Tuesday from 7-11pm. They offer different wines, artisanal cheeses and charcuterie which you can indulge in to your heart’s content. Very competitively priced for the quality on offer at only AED 245.
Happy wining and dining!