Early on in Gravity’s Rainbow, while we’re still huddled behind London blackout curtains with relatively recognisable characters and fairly coherent plots, Jessica sits up while Roger sleeps, “filling with a need to cry” because she cannot protect him as she wants to. She remembers asking him what things were like before the war. Page 59:
She knows she was alive then, a child, but it’s not what she means. Wireless, staticky Frank Bridge Variations a hairbrush for the tangled brain over the BBC Home Service, bottle of Montrachet, a gift from Pirate, cooling at the kitchen window.
“Well, now,” in his cracked old curmudgeon’s voice, palsied hand reaching out to squeeze her breast in the nastiest way he knows, “girly, it depends which war you mean,” and here it comes, ugh, ugh, drool welling at the corner of his lower lip and over and down in a silver string, he’s so clever, he’s practiced all these disgusting little—
“Don’t be ridic, I’m serious, Roger. I don’t remember.”
Maybe the bottle of Montrachet can tell you, Jessica? These things are time capsules. Without paying any attention at all, I’ve obtained a bottle from 2007. I know this blog calls for 1921 vintages and so on, but 2007 still seems to me pretty bloody impressively old.
On the other hand, the messages within this bottle may not have survived the past decade so well. The nose is intriguing, dry and acidic, a little funky — reminds me of a lambic beer. But the taste is dominated by a sherry-like oxidative character that’s interesting but not thrilling. It’s nicely acidic with a bit of a meringuey thing going on, but there’s not much fruit action, and it generally comes across as overoxidised and past its prime.
I should confess here however that this bottle is not technically Montrachet Montrachet. It’s Chassagne-Montrachet, which apparently is the larger region containing the Montrachet vineyard. That particular vineyard is the most prized of the region, with some considering it the “ultimate expression of Chardonnay.” If it isn’t already obvious from that, the Gravity’s Rainbow Companion informs us that Roger and Jess’s Montrachet is “a very expensive bottle of wine.” My bottle is from some other vineyard in the area; it’s strangely hard to figure out which. But I’m calling that close enough! Who’s to say Roger/Jessica/our narrator has sufficient wine nous to tell Chassagne-Montrachet from Puligny-Montrachet from Montrachet anyway? I sure didn’t. I’ll save those extra pennies for the thousand or so drinks still ahead of us here…