The Drouet Hors d’Age Paradis de Famille Grande Champagne, 42.3%, is dark. Really dark! The oak shows, and it’s there in the nose, too. At first, though, in the nose are peeled, bruised overripe bananas strapped with little eelskin belts onto the backs of Pomeranians on parade round about the Island of Misfit Toys. The road, such as it is, is paved with kiwi slices caramelized by neon (gas) blowtorches. There are pats of butter and Gala apple slices, too, befitting the festive occasion, and the overwhelming sense of unlimbering out of bed at 11am on a Saturday morning. (A feeling Stephen won’t experience again for roughly the next 18 years.)
The mouth is vibrant and bright, somehow both elegant by design, and disjunctively out of place by chance, much like a silk-pajama-clad salsa-dancing troupe accidentally crashing a Louis XIV ball. ¡Ay, caramba! It’s poised, warm, and beautifully constructed, like a thoughtfully genetically-modified persimmon that retains all the explosive tang sans the tannic tingle. Moreover, the persimmon’s mutant X-Fruit offspring has shades of roma tomatoes, Patek Phillipe watch parts, and childlike wonder in its very DNA, while its superpower is, like that of Rocky Byun, the ability to perfectly balance anything and everything.
The finish is where the artistry deftly shoulders its way to the front, offending none of the preceding elements. I just held a glorp (yes, friends, this is a technical term) in my mouth for about three minutes, just to see what happened, much like shooting a man in Reno, just to watch him die. It modulated like ringing the changes while changing the guard: variable yet crisp, precise yet all over the map, metonymic.
[Stephen: Bill, please tell me you meant “metronomic.”]
On and on, on and on; hither one moment, then yon. Clickety-clack, Klickitat. Parts of my throat I’d forgotten existed assert themselves with demure clucks, speaking a Khoisan click language that only uvula understands.
On the scale of chiastic toasts often attributed to the Irish painter Francis Bacon—
The Drouet Hors d’Age Paradis de Famille Grande Champagne, 42.3%, is “Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.”–One might cavil that this is surely the only chiastic toast attributed to Francis Bacon, but that misses the point. The point is that the toast is so easily amended to Grande Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends. Amen, Francis, amen.
–Our thanks to Raj Sabharwal and PVI Global for the sample!