Once upon a time there was a biting wine ... evocative, wasn't it? It always sounds good as incipit once upon a time. It is reassuring. It is a phrase that smells good. It was the 'yoga' of the 70s, when my generation still liked to write the letter to Santa Claus, or reclaim the poem learned by heart for Mother's Day. By now I am a woman, but I still believe in fairy tales, because life is what you want to do with it. Reality is fairytale, as black is to white: everyone is so convinced that one excludes the existence of the other, because they cannot grasp the gray. Reality is a bluff. Just lean out of the cave of the Platonic myth and you realize that reality is just a game of rigged cards. After all, the age des lumières has failed, while the magical reality of Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez, or my conception of a modern fairy tale, no. At least, so I codified my resilience.
The ancient Persian fairy tale the Three Princes of Serendippo tells of how the three sons of Jafar, King of Serendippo, had been sent by their father to discover the world and, how, in each adventure they lived, they had the opportunity to learn to train their instinct and sagacity, applied to the crazy splinter of 'randomness'. Serendipity means: "The ability or fortune to make unexpected and happy discoveries by chance, especially in the scientific field, while other is being sought". Serendipity shows us that what apparently may seem like a gross mistake can sometimes prove to be an advantage; I always like to tell about that Parisian chef, who harshly scolded his apprentice by giving him ganache, that in French means clumsy, for having accidentally dropped boiling cream in chocolate in the preparation of the cream. This is what I mean: in reality, that pastry chef was just a clumsy, but on a fairytale level he was brilliant.
The moral of the story? There is, of course, and is enclosed in two sentences that, who knows me well, will have heard me repeat a myriad of times as if it were a mantra: "Nothing happens by chance" and "beauty is in the eyes of those who know how to see it". Dom Perignon did not invent champagne. Here, I said it. The biting, pungent, naturally sparkling wines already existed in the times of the ancient Romans, the so-called Aigleucos and Acinatici. Virgil, in the Aeneid will tell that Bezia 'Ille impiger hausit spumantem pàtera', or 'He greedily drank the sparkling wine from the cup'.
The merit of the Benedictine agronomist will be that of going against the current, of having sensed the potential of the bubbles. While all the other producers saw a 'defect' in the bubbles, the monk had the foresight to perceive an advantage. The spontaneous restart of alcoholic fermentation, which inexplicably caused the bottles to explode in the cellar, and gave these wines mousseux, could not be controlled, but, at least, Dom Perignon managed to “harness” it. It was he who first applied the concept of low yields, cru and assemblage in Champagne, enhancing the peculiarities of each individual vineyard. And it was always he, in the pre-Pasteur era, who had the intuition that, if the bottles in the cellar exploded burdened by the pressure of the atmospheric pressure contained in it, it would have been enough to use thicker bottles for this force to be supported.
To experiment. To provoke. This is also our job when we go to the vineyard: tasting by the barrel not only serves to understand the potential that wine will have in the future, but also in giving us an idea of how that same wine could be 'otherwise'.
That day, when we were guests of Madame Cazals, it went exactly like that. The vineyards of Delphine are located in Mesnil-sur-Oger, and, more exactly, this blonde and full of life lady is the 'neighbor' of Clos du Mesnil (desecrating. I know ...). We tasted his champagnes, abusing, as usual, his hospitality. At a certain point he makes us taste the wine of which he was most proud and who most represented her. Alessandro and I look for each other. He realized I was perplexed. 'What do you say?' Press immediately. And I answered by curling my lips. I am not convinced. The dosage does not convince me technically. Here then Alessandro provokes Delphine, saying: "But have you not considered the idea of producing this champagne without liqueur?". She looks at him, hesitates a second, and then tells us to follow her to the cellar. Here is what I mean by the fairy tale. Here is what I mean by serendipity. Her husband opens us in the Chapelle du Clos 2008, and fills our glasses. 'Now better?'. 'Yes, now better. We want 800 bottles of Chapelle du Clos exactly like that, pas dosée. And ... don't even put sulfites in it. You will do those only for us. "
These are the fairy tales that I like.
And they all lived happily ever after.