Ask Eno, NYE: What the Heck is a Comet Vintage?

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Dear Eno,

What in the heck is a “Comet Vintage”?

– Shawna


Dear Shawna,

A “Comet Vintage” is a super great vintage!  

This term denoting an extraordinary wine vintage originates from 1811 in France when a comet appeared before that year’s harvest. This is still considered the most famous comet vintage of them all, with bottles of 1811 Bordeaux’s Chateau d’Yquem not only still drinking to this day but also fetching out-of-this-world prices at auctions, as much as £75,000!  

Similarly, the term “comet wine” indicates an exceptional wine, in reference to the phenomenon of a “comet vintage” but doesn’t necessarily mean that any great comet was involved.

By cosmic coincidence, the 1811 releases from Champagne house Veuve Clicquot were the first that many consider to resemble modern Champagne. While some may attribute this to the Comet Vintage, it’s also thanks to the Widow Clicquot’s new innovations in the process of Champagne, namely the invention of riddling in order to remove sediments from the bottles.  A practice that she managed to keep a trade secret for very little time and that now all Champagne houses practice in one way or another.

Comet Vintages & their Comets:

1826 – Biela’s Comet

1832 – Biela’s Comet

1839 – Biela’s Comet

1845 – Great June Comet of 1845

1846 – Biela’s Comet

1852 – Biela’s Comet

1858 – Comet Donati

1861 – Great Comet of 1861

1874 – Comet Coggia

1985 – Halley’s Comet

1989 – Comet Okazaki-Levy-Rudenko


Aubrie Talarico is part of Eno’s team that answers your toughest questions or curiosities about wine, beer, spirits, sake, and cider. Email questions to and read the answers in Eno’s E-newsletter!

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