March 19, 2019
Generally, when I write about matters of the vine, I limit myself to the practical (relatively!) bottlings that can be generally sourced at your better than average local wine shop and enjoyed with the catch of the day. But here, ummmm, not so much.
Several years ago, I sourced a bottle of champagne from Taittinger that was an artistic commission of sorts of Robert Rauschenberg. Yes, that Robert Rauschenberg, first scenic designer of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Along with composer John Cage, Rauschenberg and Cunningham became the creative force of the most impactful dance company of the 20th Century, spawning a cultural revolution in Music, Dance and Visual Arts. The Taittinger Collection engages significant visual artists in exceptional champagne vintages to design special jackets for the bottles and releases them in modest quantities, irregularly.
I mention this wine here, because serendipitously, I stumbled across the last case I know of in North America, just in time for the John Cage Truffle Salon, an event I am working on with the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA. On April 14th, as part of the world-wide celebration of Merce Cunningham’s 100th Birthday, we will be hosting guests for an exploration of the truffles that John Cage loved so much with conversations of John’s music, Merce’s choreography and Rauschenberg’s visual genius. The joy of the event will be magnified a hundred-fold as the venue will be the Grinstein house, a repository for some of Rauschenberg’s most treasured work.
Animating the conversation will be a menu of specially created courses honoring truffles, John, Merce, and Robert. The wines will include the Rauschenberg Champagne of course, but also some iconic bottlings of Barolo, Vouvray and White Burgundy! Did I mention that the food is being imagined by Timothy Hollingsworth, chef de cuisine emeritus of The French Laundry and now chef-owner of Otium in Los Angeles?
As for the bubbly, yes, it is magnificent… a yeasty nose with a bit of almond and sherry about it, gently effervescent, full bodied and absolutely mature. And thanks to Rauschenberg, not bad to look at either. Where to buy it? I haven’t a clue.