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January 19, 2007

95 Jean Vesselle, Champagne Bouzy Brut Prestige

I've never seen bubbly pinot noir age this well. While many go grapey or limp, Vesselle's prestige cuvee--actually a blend of two parts pinot noir to one part chardonnay--has gotten oily and rich, as silky as browned butter or lardo melting on the bottom lip. So oily, in fact, that the cool, measured stride of bubbles barely breaks the surface. It's the vines of Bouzy dressed in linen for the flabby heat of 95. Were it chardonnay, a wine that seemed this old would have gone to sherry by now, but Vesselle's--though seemingly dead with its bronze color and faint carbonation--has all the vigor one expects from big Bouzy. To be frank, I was nervous the bottle had passed when I opened it, the cork sliding out like a spirit from the room. But, instead, its nutty yeast cake aroma, sweet tarte tatin, sourdough, and lemon curd taste, and finish of raspberry and tangerine trifle is one of Champagne's great surprises.


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