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September 21, 2010

NV Maurice Vesselle, Champagne Bouzy Grand Cru Rose

Gizmodo ran an interview today about the Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest and highest-energy particle accelerator. And, in case you don't dabble in particle acceleration, it's not as though the one before this one was just a few feet long. No, to be the world's largest means being 17 miles around buried in the ground under Geneva. The fear? Well, maybe someone didn't check all the pipes. Maybe there's a chink. And the chink could swallow the entire world--or at least every crepe and peace treaty known to man. But that's not what Gizmodo asked about. Gizmodo asked the very practical question: What would happen if you stuck your hand in it? (That's what she said.) And instead of saying, "you die." Or laughing the guy out of the room. Some of the UK's top physicists actually tried to answer this. They were stumped. What does happen, when you have two virtually non-existent forces coming together at close to the speed of light, and a hand gets in the way? Which brings me to this wine. Collisions are common in Champagne, what with all the drinking, Citroens, and Peugeot bicyclettes. They do their wine the same way, front-ending chardonnay with pinot noir and pinot meunier, assaulting it with rapacious yeast, and then leaving it to die in a basement until a family member comes looking in the cold for something lost. This Maurice Vesselle, like an unusual proportion of Bouzy wines, is a tremorous, atomic event of opposing forces. I'm literally shaking. There are countless wines that taste better. Countless more that smell better. And about four regular non-vintage bottlings that both taste and smell better. From the moment the cork is pulled to the seventh and final glass, what you see here is nothing short of most vintners tete de cuvee. It shows a heady, bready, and--OK, I'll say it--Krug-like aroma. By which I mean it's both fruity and nuanced, rich with underlying aromas of mushrooms. The smell, the smell. Let's not mess around. This is the smell of premier cru red burgundy. I want to stress that last point. It's not reminiscent of pinot noir. It's not a kinda-sorta situation. It smells like off-vintage Eyrie Reserve (yep, that's Oregon, but if you read this blog, you understand what a compliment that is to France from me.) The taste is full of wild strawberries coated with orange blossom honey. Your friend across the room is laughing, watching Amelie, and for some reason holding a bouquet of tarragon. Before you leave, someone slips you a simple plate of pasta with black truffle oil. That's how we come together. High speed, deep, under pressure. Our tongues pressed against a shooting force of unknowing. Whether buried beneath the Swiss, where the quest for great Champagne arguably cemented itself, or here in urban America inside an industrialized glass bottle. Stick your hand in there. Let the protons shoot straight through your palm, your tongue. And ask yourself, at the end of the day, did you explode? Did you feel any pain? Or did you just stand there, your mouth agape, your eye stricken with awe hoping, somebody save me, asking what could possibly happen next?


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