96 Alain Thienot, Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Cuvee Stanislas
I didn't know if we would make it through the night. Because when the cork finally gave in, after 12 minutes of prying with an 8" vice grip, I was pretty sure I'd shot it straight up my upstairs neighbor's ass. When the smoke settled, there was a vice and cork in my right hand, a bottle of golden elixir in my left, and three cats perched high in the next room. After nine years in bottle (the cork labeled 1999), this hasn't even begun to calm down. And the hints of oxidation you might expect to see in 100% chardonnay sparklers like this one haven't even begun to surface. These grapes must be grown, harvested, fermented, and bottled in a vacuum to produce a wine so incredulous of the natural world. How else to explain the sucking sound in my mouth every time I take a sip? My cheeks caving in against the anti-matter intensity of this Thienot cuvee. It's about as dry as Champagne gets and, like Clouet's Silver Brut, Orval, and Paillard's NPU, that means it tastes like aluminum foil. The salinity is a fetishist, tightening like a tourniquet the austere flavors of salt-caked honeycomb, green apple skin, raw quince, and undercooked baklavah. It's a candidate for decanting, at least worth pouring a few minutes before you actually drink it. In the meantime, it's more phenolic than any bottled wine I've ever had, closest to the 88 Sugot-Feneuil in its youth. If only you could cut smell like an apple. Think about who you are. Do you drink wines like this? And, if so, what other loves of yours are still unrequited? The Stanislas is every girl who didn't take your phone calls, every elfish English teacher who said you couldn't write. It's your mom in the 90s wondering what it is you do on the internet all day. It's a 10:30pm curfew when the community college bars don't even start letting underage kids in until 11. Which is to say, this wine is a resistance to everything in you that craves change. Why change? Why change when your moment, one harvest day in late 96, so perfectly describes who you are? Yeah, the others grow old. They get richer, softer, maybe even a little gray. But we'll stay who we are. We'll never change. And you'll never pry the spirits out from within our bodies. No matter how firm your hold.