July 22nd 2013
I have long admired this iconic champagne but from afar. Now, having just visited and stayed at the magnificent Ch de Sarran I am seriously impressed. This is not a prestige luxury brand sitting back comfortably on its haunches but an innovative, determined progressive powerhouse steered intelligently and intuitively by Richard Geoffroy and his team of wine makers, one of whom, Vincent guided us through both a “dark revelation” dinner and an extraordinary tasting.
The premise of the dinner was to challenge the senses and paired an array of tastes with Dom Perignon’s latest release, the very serious 2004 vintage. Dinner was broken down into colours so silver grey featured bouillon dashi to start with saltiness apparent, then into red and gelee de tomate with raw tuna, texturally exquisite. Along with grilled crab and a licorice stick, dark was a triumph of caviar on chestnut pancake along with aubergine soaked in duck consommé – this rocked, soliciting a lot of tremendous feedback. Yellow next being -two intense squares of balsamic jelly – eye-watering – and lemon jelly – again an initial assault on the palate but ensuing experience paired with champagne amazing. These were accompanied by an exquisite corn soufflé. Green next being strips of sole with parsley drizzle – wonderful and culminating in white which was poached pear with almond blanc mange. At this point the empty glass we all had been ruminating on was filled with Oenotheque 1970 – WOW it is still a bébé, hints of thyme and mint on nose, incredible texture and a 60 plus second finish. Chef Pascal appeared and when asked about the most important taste his response was salt, very enlightening. A truly great evening with much hilarity over magnums of Dom Perignon and their place in nightclubs amongst some excellent debate.
Day 2 began with a visit to Hautvillers and Dom Perignon’s grave – an ancient and moving abbey. Next to the abbey is a fabulous tasting room and here Vincent took us through an epic line up of Dom Perignon –
2004 – mineral, iodine, strict, fine apricot honey citrus palate, structure and grip on finish.
2003 – hotter vintage this was more brioche, almond, nectarine and honey and broader on palate.
1996 Oenotheque – a celebrated vintage and tasting and looking v youthful. Extremely fine bubble, nose of peach, apricot, mandarin, lovely texture on palate with real “vinosite” incredibly long. (Disgorged in 2008)
2003 rose – lovely colour (oeil de perdrix) gorgeous aromatics strawberry with citrus underlying, very Pinot. Vincent likened it to 1978
2002 rose – firmer more mineral nose. Toast, raspberry creaminess on palate with great length and balance
1993 rose Oenotheque – cinammon, rose dried apricot on nose – harmonious and delightful
1992 rose Oenotheque – peaty, iodine nose with rich raspberry underlying v different. Citrus freshness on palate with good vinosity
1971 Oenotheque en Magnum – disgorged in 2006 this was a revelation. Honey, marmite, toasty nose, incredible freshness and finesse and texture.
1985 rose – I remember well the year as I picked at Veuve Clicquot then, very sunny and small harvest, this exhibited lovely Chardonnay elegance was really fine and vibrant
1982 rose – a wonderful rich decadence here. Marmite, prune wild strawberry and incredible length.
What a tasting and testament to the fact that these champagnes age incredibly well. 1921 was the first vintage of Dom Perignon and if you have a bottle in your cellar then you have a treat in store. Equally if you haven’t yet put away some 2004 then I highly encourage you to do so.