Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal and Run the Jewels 3
Some of the most satisfying experiences come out of left field. They knock you on your ass and it’s a rude yet rewarding awakening with no snooze button. Run the Jewels 3 and Lambert de Seyssel’s Petit Royal are both like this. They’re nervy, pronounced, expressive and unapologetically themselves. They speak from their past and where they are today, representing their struggles and successes in one fell swoop.
The opening track on RTJ3 - one of the top albums for me personally and in general from last year - is like a Run the Jewels anthem and lays the foundation for the record. Killer Mike and El-P who make up the Atlanta hip hop duo had to climb out of a few dark holes to get to their current position in the sun as the commercial and critical success they are today. On “Down”, Killer Mike comes right out the gate with “I hope/ I hope with the highest of hopes/ That I never have to go back to the trap/ And my days of dealing with dope”. On the second verse, El-P adds his own battles with misfortune: “I'm a full force and a cold fact/ See the cold floor where I licked dirt/ When the dough dried and the pride died/ Had a dumb max, had to shop right/ Gimme two meals and the lights on/ I'ma do right, get a new crew/ Make a new life, never boo-hoo.”
This first track comes in hot. RTJ owns their past and commands their future. They are not here to play or suffer any fools. They are stepping out; they’ve been through some shit and they are ready to go.
Which brings me to this bottle of Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal Brut. It contains the same “let’s do this” attitude as RTJ. It’s literally been bottled up for years and it’s ready to burst...into your mouth. This sparkling wine is made using the traditional Champagne method with a second fermentation taking place once the wine is bottled. It’s then aged for two years sur latte (on its lees - the yeast deposits that gather as sediment), which distinguishes itself from a lot of the sparkling wine of the Seyssel region in Savoie which produces fresh wines meant to be drunk young.
In addition to the physical time spent to produce this particular bottle of bubb, the journey of how it got here is its own story. Seyssel is a historic wine region in the majestic French Alps. Grapes have been grown there dating back to as early as the 11th century. Queen Victoria herself used to pop bottles of Seyssel sparkling. Petit Royal originated in 1901 by the Clerc and Varichon families and was considered to be the best wine in the market until it was purchased by a Burgundian negociant. Quality suffered and the brand lost its reputation until a local couple, Gérard and Catherine Lambert, who sought to reclaim its prestige teamed up with the great-grandson of the Varichons. They bought back the property, reinstating its bomb-ass bubbles status, validated by its addition to the Kermit Lynch portfolio.
The current release of the Petit Royal has a rich, lemony golden yellow color. The nose surges with pear, lemon/lime citrus, white jasmine and gardenia florals, peach puree, gooseberry and almond with a smoky edge. There’s tiny, tight, fine bubbles on the palate with nervy but not astringent acidity. It can be enjoyed just on its own or would be great with a wide range of food. It’s lovely, delightful and balanced with equal parts elegance and spunk.
Although its regional setting conjures images of ski bunnies, beautiful snow-capped mountains and glamorous people with fashionable outerwear, Petit Royal is the product of determination and the persistence of the people who believed in it. It’s kind of the working woman’s sparkling - it’s unmistakably itself, affordable (at only 20 bucks a bottle) and downright delicious.
The second track on RTJ3 is “Talk to Me” and it’s a straight-up masterpiece. It’s a full-on freight train of energy and where RTJ flexes their political eloquence. Killer Mike is an outspoken political and social activist, defending the rights of black people especially against police misconduct and supporting the efforts of progressive politicians like Bernie Sanders. In “Talk to Me” he hilariously references Donald Trump during his campaign for the presidency: “Went to war with the Devil and Shaytan/ He wore a bad toupee and a spray tan”. In the interlude, Killer Mike reminds us that RTJ is coming through full steam ahead and they’re going to keep hammering in their message: “I told y'all suckers, I told y'all suckers. I told y'all on RTJ1, then I told ya again on RTJ2, and you still ain't believe me. So here we go, RTJ3”.
The rest of the record is an opus of force and opulence, the same qualities found in the Petit Royal. “Call Ticketron” is lit. It is fun and flashy with incredible production value and even an alien invasion. It’s definitely a banger. El-P is a master shit-talker on this track, dropping tough lyrics like “Sip pure venom and skipped away grinnin'/ I put that on mom, she ain't raise a vic/ Lil' fucknuts, sit/ I piss on your wit, dismiss your whole shit”. The celebratory and bourgie nature of sparkling wine is fitting for this lavish display.
“Don’t Get Captured” and “Thieves! (Screamed the Ghost)” both creatively ruminate on current issues like gentrification, police corruption and unfair socio-economic conditions using imaginative scenarios like both perspectives of a cop bust and a dystopian future.
“Panther Like a Panther (Miracle Mix)” is another banger featuring Trina. It’s a crude show of confidence and dominance, providing a rebellious little thrill to bounce to. RTJ3 keeps the right amount of flaunt and realness in balance throughout the record that’s satisfying on multiple levels.
The whole thing from the beats, to the rhythm, the slick and clever rapping and the subject matter is impressive, resonating, motivating and RTJ at their best. El-P and Killer Mike’s union has hit full stride, like the joining forces of the Lamberts and Olivier Varichon who brought back to life this dazzling sparkling wine. Run the Jewels 3 and Lambert de Seyssel Petit Royal are at their most distinct and regal.