December 2nd 2016
Dom Pérignon dinner at Alfred Dunhill Private Members Club, Mayfair
On the 17th November we held a very grand but hugely enjoyable dinner with the iconic Champagne House, Dom Pérignon. To show off this exceptional Champagne in its true glory this exclusive evening was set within the splendid grandeur of the magnificent Grade II listed Bourdon House, formerly the home of the Duke of Westminster.
11 of our customers, along with Hugo and myself where treated to an unforgettable experience as we were guided, with great expertise by Jack Dundas of Moet Hennessey, through a flight of five vintages of Dom Pérignon, encompassing the creation and evolution of each.
Dom Pérignon has a signature house style, a smoky, flinty mineral drive and tension which is the back bone to their Champagnes. What sets them apart from other houses and shows their skill in the wine making is their ability to express and capture the individual character of each year. Every vintage is a unique way to create a new style, to encapsulate all the best things that nature offers in that particular year. Holding on to this creation and developing the complexity and expression is then all about the ‘lees’ aging (how long the wine stays on the yeasts). We experienced this evolution first hand drinking expressions of P1, P2 and the rare P3, all of which got the table chatting excitably.
To match each expression of Dom Pérignon a beautiful seasonal menu was designed by Alfred’s Chef, Andrew Turner, which brought each vintage of Dom Pérignon to life.
Dom Pérignon 2006
Scallop à la Parisienne
Dom Pérignon P2 1998
Denham Estate Venison Fillet, Confit Shoulder Pithivier,
Salsify Wild Mushrooms, Savoy Cabbage and Lardons
Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004
Tart au Fine with Cinnamon Ice-Cream
Dom Pérignon Rosé 2003 en Magnum
Gruyere and Beaufort Cheese
Dom Pérignon P3 1983
Dom Pérignon 2006 – This was accompanied by some delectable canapes; Liquid Olive, Cream Cheese & Truffle and Citrus Salmon. They brought to life the individual nuances of flavour in the champagne brilliantly. Having tasted the 2006 on a number of occasions now from it release in 2015 I was pleased to note that is was starting to open out, gaining weight and depth. The aromatics are still charming but the power and complexity are evident. This has class and pedigree.
Zesty citrus fruits, smoky slate, roasted nuts and flinty minerals are intermingled with rich, creamy brioche making the nose a little more opulent. It is still very clean, fresh and pure with bags of intensity though! The palate is now incredibly rich and complex; notes of citrus zest and white flowers mingle with the classic darker smoky, toast and mineral complexity that echo cream, mushrooms and truffle. The richness and silkiness of the brioche returns on the palate adding the power and weight, while the fleshy, juicy white peach flavours lift balance everything harmoniously. The finish is mouth-watering, long and saline.
The warmth of the 2006 vintage is starting to show through, adding some ripeness and opulence. But it still retains its purity and beauty. Looking at my notes I would currently place this between the 2002 and 2004, with a very exciting time ahead.
On to the first course, everyone was seated and the evening was underway. Dom Pérignon P2 1998 was served. P2 is the ‘second release’, aged on its lees for around 12/15 years. This dazzled everyone and was matched beautifully by the scallop dish. Amazing aromatics and energy on the nose gave a beautiful expression of opulence and finesse, which was tremendously engaging. I have tasted this champagne now about 4 times since it release and this evening it was singing. Probably my wine of the night.
Very aromatic, intense notes of honeysuckle, orange rind and hints of fresh oysters. Lovely notes of smoky saline minerals. On the palate, broad, mouth-filling and intense with precise flavours, porcini mushrooms, oyster shell minerals blended with rich brioche creaminess ending on a saline and Smokey note. This is rich without being at all heavy; it has lots of vitality. Possibly one of the most overlooked vintages of Dom Perignon, as it came after the 1996 and one well worth investing in for your cellar.
This is typically 2004; elegant and feminine. Heady aromatics of red fruits pour out of the glass; redcurrants and rich cranberry mixed with mushroom/game spice and smoky minerals give a little opulence to the palette. We drank this along side a very pink lion of Venison and mushrooms; to me this was the food match of the evening. The sweetness and creamy gamey flavours married together perfectly with the richness and depth the 2004 rosé offers.
Onto the beautiful fruit tart paired with the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2003 from Magnum.
Very fresh nose, slightly tight not giving away too much aroma, thinking this must be the ‘magnum effect’ it shows how much slower they mature. In the mouth rich and brooding, dark red forest fruits. Notes of blackberry, morrello cherry and strawberry. A creamy and broad structure with vanilla and leather savoury spice. A little astringent on the finish. It was better when drunk with the tart.
(NB: The magnum format must have played a part in retaining the youth, as a week later I tasted it from bottle and it was even more expressive and showed nothing of the slight astringent finish.)
Finally, onto the climax, the big P3! Dom Pérignon 1983 P3. The third release after 30+ years on its lees. This was the most complex and mature wine of the evening and was set off brilliantly by the two aged cheeses.
An explosion of aromatics in the glass, all very distinctive. Fresh oyster-shell, salt, iodine and seaweed mixed with toasty hazelnut praline. A layered, complex wine, concentrated well developed flavours. Its style was reminiscent of a Puligny-Montrachet, as was its fresh racy tension. On the palate this was savoury, truffle and mushrooms, whilst still retaining the fresh salinity and sea-mineral edge. Toasty notes of nuts, praline, butterscotch and brioche came next coating your palate, giving depth and opulence. Perfectly balanced, with a long and haunting finish.
To sum the evening up; it was a big WOW! It was hard to pick an individual wine of the night, as everyone had a different favourite, or many had more than one; they all evoked a lot of conversation and excitement. To understand the different styles and to pair them with food was a real experience, it developed our knowledge of how Dom Pérignon should be shown and enjoyed in order to fully understand the unique characteristics of each vintage. Everyone around the table was convinced they should be drinking more vintage Champagne, not only is it wonderful in its youth but can age with the depth and complexity of any great Grand Cru Burgundy and give just as much enjoyment.