The first total solar eclipse is five days away, on Monday, Aug. 21. The moon will fully obscure the sun for up to 2 minutes, 40 seconds (at least in Carbondale, IL). Where will you be? Who will you be with? But most importantly, what will you be drinking? Sure, it might be morning or mid-day for most people, but if there ever was a reason for day-drinking, this is it! I mean – we’ll kind of have two sunsets and two sunrises in one day, right? So I thought I’d offer up a few fun suggestions for wines to mark the occasion.
Champagne! Dom Perignon did not invent Champagne, but he did supposedly say, upon tasting his first glass: Come quickly! I am tasting the stars! So, if you can pony up $150 or more, this is a great option. Why is it so expensive? Because Dom Perignon Champagne only makes vintage Champagne — meaning, they only produce it in years of excellent harvests, and all the grapes in every bottle came from a single year’s harvest. So there’s not a ton of it out there, which means: expensive.
But really, any Champagne will do. One delicious (and not too pricey) option is Piper-Heidsieck Brut Cuvée, which can be found for about $40. It’s my go-to “anytime” Champagne. Another delicious option: Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve ($40).
Biodynamic Wine A biodynamic wine is perfect for the eclipse! Biodynamic agriculture is an alternative way to farm based on Rudolph Steiner‘s ideas about “treating the earth as a living and receptive organism.” With biodynamic wine, grape growers follow an astrological calendar — involving the cycle of the moon and other planets — for planting, fertilizing and harvesting grapes. It’s a freaky way to farm, but the resulting wines are ethereal in their expression of terroir, which is a hard-to-define word that means the collective characters of the soil, the place, the climate, the aspect of the vineyard that are expressed in the wine. So a wine dictated by the moon, sun and stars was born to be sipped during an eclipse!
My first fave: M. Chapoutier Chante Alouette, made from 100% Marsanne from a teeny, tiny piece of vineyard high on a hill. You’re going to pick up honey, peach, ginger, salted almonds and more on this wine. It. is. delicious! Michel Chapoutier is known as the “King of the Rhône” and like an eclipse, he’s a little crazy, but also a genius. His estate and single-vineyard wines like Chante Alouette, La Sizeranne, Le Méal, Le Pavillon and others are all biodynamic, so if you’re looking for a red, there are plenty of choices by Monsieur Chapoutier.
Another mind-bending biodynamic wine is by Nicolas Joly. He makes a wine called Savennières, which is a white wine — 100% Chenin Blanc to be exact — from the Anjou region of the Loire Valley in France. My favorite is Clos de la Bergerie. But just as some people are nervous about the eclipse, so may they be about Savenièrres. It will look darker than you think it should. It may smell like a beautiful sherry, with notes of sweet nuts, honey and white flowers (like jasmine or honeysuckle) but it’s a fake-out — the wine is dry with aggressive acidity and an ethereal, silky mouthfeel. The first sip made me go, “What the what is going on?! More, please!” They call Savennieres the “thinking person’s wine” because it will absolutely cause a pause after the first sniff or sip. In fact, you might think it is flawed in some way – but it is (hopefully) not. It’s worth trying and just like the eclipse – will provoke awe and wonder.
Biodynamic Champagne! This would be the ultimate eclipse sip – except that these wines can be very hard to find, at least in the U.S. There are several producers — Fleury, Leclerc Briant, David Léclapart, Françoise Bedel et Fils and Franck Pascal — but I have never tasted them, but if you find one, let me know what you think!
Check wine.com to order or your local shop for any of these wines. Happy eclipse sipping, and remember to don your eclipse glasses for safety!