08 July 2011

UNESCO Champagne

My architect friend C's role, on the occasional wine region sojourns we take together with her husband J, typically consists of directing our attention to this or that UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was marvelously fitting, then, that on C's recent birthday a friend of hers from UNESCO brought a bottle of the IGO's in-house Champagne.

So that's where all that inter-governmental funding is going!*

I've always been somewhat puzzled by the habit of restaurants and caves and, it turns out, inter-governmental organizations contracting their own brand of Champagne. I assume its distantly related to the archaic aristocratic habit of hiring a particular house to develop a blend that suited (or flattered) one's rarified tastes. By now I'd wager that actual bespoke cuvées are fairly scarce, and most commercial and private customers just choose from a set selection of what the merchant has to offer.

Which is to say that house-branded Champagne, to a discerning drinker, says something like: we got this for a bargain from a large-scale merchant with no interest in associating his own name with his product.

I was nevertheless extremely jazzed to taste UNESCO's Champagne. It's not something you see everyday. It was a Blanc de Blancs, professional and graceful but with notably low acid, like a Kings of Convenience song.

Given that its primary venues are (presumably) enormous state functions, something challenging was probably out of the question for whichever hospitality director or lord-knows-who selected the cuvée.

A related second-hand anecdote: a caviste friend of mine once told me how the transaction went with the merchant who furnishes said caviste's house-branded Champagne. Apparently this merchant was visibly uninterested in the wine itself, but instead enthused at length to my caviste friend about the impressive capacities of a new labeling machine.

* I'm kidding. I support UNESCO and am totally okay with them having their own brand of Champagne. They're probably getting a killer deal. This should by no means turn into some kind of lunatic right-wing cause célèbre

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