Stopping briefly in Paris on my way to the States for a friend’s wedding, I brought along a bottle of Jacques Lassaigne’s Les Papilles Insolites to drink last night (you know, for fortification en route). This is a tiny cuvée that seems to be slightly misunderstood by most people, at least those who write about it on the internet. (I’ve even seen it referred to as Les Papilles Insolentes on a French wine forum, which I think is even better!) In truth, most people have never heard of it at all, as it’s really only available at the two places in Paris for which it’s named: Les Papilles and La Cave de l’Insolite.
What’s unusual about this cuvée is that while it comes from Montgueux, which is basically known exclusively as a chardonnay terroir, this is 75 percent pinot noir. It’s all from the 2005 vintage, disgorged in January of 2008 and released without dosage, and it’s definitely a hipster champagne (it made me think of you, Sharon). Showing an unusually pronounced color, it’s intense and vinous in aroma, feeling almost like a poulsard or other light red wine rather than champagne, and it takes well over an hour after being opened to fully reveal its depth of flavor. The earthy, taut aromas of dried cranberry, redcurrant and plum skins are lively and refreshing, and continue to expand in depth and length as this gains air — in fact, I would consider decanting this the next time I open it. I also think that it could have a better balance with a gram or two of dosage, as the finish feels quite stern and compressed, but of course that’s not in the spirit of this cuvée. Regardless, it’s delicious and intriguing, and I love its unique personality.