NV Jean Vesselle, Champagne Brut Bouzy "Oeil de Perdrix" Rose
It's not often that I drink coffee while tasting a wine, even relatively mild, nutty, Mexican Chiapas. Like cigarettes, flavorful food, off-white tablecloths, and impressionist art, it's one of the things that the real tasters out there--the guys who get paid the big bucks to have all their wines comped--would never allow. Obviously, it destroys your palate. And while it's tough to argue with some of that (after all, they are the experts), I will occasionally taste wine in my underwear on a dumpster beside the Boulevard Montmarte eating foie gras cream puffs and smoking Marlboro reds, a dead pale-eyed partridge in the road. That's how we actually drink (well, maybe not exactly), not stuffed up in some sterile, lifeless tasting room. A wine like this demands it. To be had in as many different places and life situations as possible. And I did that with this 750 in particular, starting on its own, then with chicken livers and duck rillets at Sepia, a quick nip in the bathroom at Avec, and finally this morning with my coffee. Possibly Bouzy's most historic style, later popularized by the sweet-palated Swiss, the bold "oeil de perdrix" is just a more artistic, impressionist name for rose. But what it infers--French for the bloodshot eyes of a dying partridge--is the best clue into the taste of this wine. It's not just pink, it's a dying bird. And similarly, what we taste aren't just the remarkably forceful flavors of white raspberry, strawberry, and red currants. And what we smell isn't just the completely proud, ethereal essence of pinot noir (and brioche baking in some patisserie on the Rue de Seine). It's an awakening. When I drink wines like this, I think of course it's this good. It's supposed to be this good. Everything tastes like this. I expect to come home and have the water in my tap be a sweet salmon shade of pink. That's Vesselle's strength in this gorgeous, decadent Champagne--to capture not only the greatness of Bouzy, one of my favorite wine regions in the entire world, but to make us consider why we aren't there. How we've gone all this time in our condos and midtown lofts eating cheeseburgers and drinking Coke. It makes you see your surroundings anew, that maybe your own perspectives aren't the ones that matter, and--if you're lucky enough to have the chance--the world may only ever be this beautiful through someone else's eyes.