Why was this wine writer crouching in the bushes of Newark, New Jersey, feverishly attempting to hide a magnum of Veuve Clicquot, like a dog burying his bone?
The Victor The Contraband
I had traveled to Newark for the election-night celebration of Cory Booker, a college friend who was on the verge of becoming this troubled city’s first new mayor in two decades. Smart, charismatic, and innovative in his approach to urban reform, Cory is a brainy Vin Diesel who’s got the goods to effect real change and help Newark achieve its potential.
So what Champagne is grand enough for to celebrate the rebirth of New Jersey’s largest city? I reflexively thought of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, who, like Cory, is loved by legions and so distinctive looking that its orange-yellow label is immediately recognizable across a crowded gymnasium of jubilant supporters. To my consternation, however, when I arrived at Booker headquarters toting this grand bottle in a satchel, I was immediately descended upon by no less than five security guards, who sternly informed me that no alcohol was allowed in the venue.
“But what if I don’t open it?” I pleaded, not even believing my own words. The beefy security chief wasn’t buying it either and pointed me to the exit. I slunked out of the building, defeated and thirsty. Feeling like a suburban high schooler forced to hide a six-pack of Moosehead from his parents, I found myself having to elude the police officers milling about the venue and find a deserted patch of shrubbery in which to hide this magnificent bottle. I then returned to the festivities.
But all ended well: Cory won in a landslide victory and the magnum of VC was still there after the election party — undisturbed, still somewhat chilled, and ready to inaugurate an era of hope and opportunity for Newark.
Producer: Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin
Wine: Yellow Label Brut
Cost: $45 (or about $90 for a magnum)
Track it down: ubiquitous (including the lonely shrubs of Newark)
A crowd favorite famous for its balance of force and finesse, Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label is everything a richer-style, Pinot Noir-dominated Champagne should be. This golden-yellow potion consistently delivers tiny, pinpoint bubbles, joined by notes of apple, honey, vanilla, and baked bread, culminating in a creamy finish that lasts longer than a politician’s smile.