It is said that exceptional wines come from places of power. Places that were at one time seabed, before the ocean receded, and were then lifted during geological shift. Many Grand Cru sites were initially given this designation because of the power that was recognized by monks who could see the quality of the land and place in their grapes. Later when geologists mapped demarcated formations they were able to see with modern tools that the monks’ delineations matched theirs completely. This I heard in a talk that was given by Jacques Lardiere, the winemaker for Louis Jadot, who was recognized for a lifetime of achievement in wine at IPNC. A more in depth interpretation of Jacques’ talk can be read at Wakawaka Wine Reviews.
Today is my sister’s birthday and if I could choose any wine in the world to give her it would be a wine that she herself dreamed of and then conveyed her vision in a graphic panel along with a write-up about the man who had the foresight to create single grape, in this case Chardonnay, Champagne. It is the 1996 Salon Le Mesnil, a Blanc de Blancs Brut Champagne. Jay McInerney, the wine writer and novelist, wrote about a tasting that he put together of 1996 Champagne: “The vintage was being hailed, even as the grapes were being picked, as one of the greatest ever, and its reputation has only grown in recent years. What was remarkable was that the almost unprecedented level of ripeness was accompanied by very high acidity. Ripeness without acidity is a recipe for flabby, short-lived Champagne; the 1996s, on the other hand, seemed destined for a long, happy life, although the high acidity meant that they would take a long time to really integrate and show their charms.”
I like to think that bottles of wine made from grapes that are known to have been grown in a place that is recognized as a place of power contain power themselves, thus making them portable places of power. The characteristics of the land combined with the vintage of the century caused by the year’s atmospheric conditions would make the bottle you dreamed of, Elaine, very powerful indeed. The 1996 Salon is one of the most rare and treasured Champagnes known to the wine world and if I could give it to you I would as you are one of the rarest birds I have ever known and ever hope to know. My hope is that you will recognize my desired intention and someday have the opportunity to experience this wine; a wine with strength of place and time that has the quality to improve with age.
With much love on your birthday,