On occasion, life throws you opportunities to drink something very special. And while CT is not about how much you can spend on quality champagne (moreover, we’re about how much you could save) we also think that any chance of being able to experience the upper echelons of the drink should never be ignored!
So to cover these drinks we have created a “Splash Out” section of tasting notes (un-scored) to give an impression of bottles over $100. We hope you enjoy our humble opinions.
Dom Pérignon. If you don’t know the name (or its shortened version: Dom), then in all likelihood you’ve been living under a rock for the last few hundred years.
It is the most famous name in all of champagne associated with the highest level of luxury – mostly due to pop culture. It has been the preferred drink of James Bond, is it mentioned in numerous songs about being ridiculously wealthy and even pops up in elite A-List soirees and clubs. Just as parent company LVMH likes it. The big, dark grey shield labelled, fat-bottomed bottles are instantly recognisable.
Dom is the branding of Moet et Chandon’s (of Epernay) premium wines and not a house in its own right. It is a (trademarked) throwback to a monk; Dom Pérignon – a man who dedicated much of his life to the pursuit of improving many of the production and fermentation techniques that are still practised in Champagne governing body still enforces today.
Much of the man is legend; and like all good legends there exists some truth and some falsehood.
One such falsehood is that Pérignon invented sparkling wine. He did not.
Another is that he was blind – a misconception taken from his practice of “blind tasting” grapes prior to using them in wines!
But the truths are also plentiful. Pressing techniques, grape varietals and harvesting practices were all heavily influenced by Pérignon in his pursuit of fine tuning what was once a very volatile drink.
Returning back to the champagnes of today; Dom (like many premium champagnes) does not make wines in terrible vintages and as such you will find gaps in the release years.
Some good years are better than others – and each expression of an annual harvest will offer a unique flavour profile; although most Chef de Caves’ (Chief wine makers) will endeavour to blend an accurate recreation the brands particular style, with the nuances of each seasons fruit providing variation.
The year in question in this piece is a 2004, which I was lucky to share with some friends during their first wedding anniversary (I was best-man – the entitlements are great!).
From: Epernay, Champagne, France
Cost & Source: ~$250 a bottle available from most big Liquor retailers
Blend Ratio (%): Pinot Noir/Chardonnay/Pinot Meunier (35/40/25) with 8 g/l dosage.
Aging: 8 years
Sipped: April 2018
Anything you’ve read about Dom Perignon vintages; it’s pretty much all true. 8 years on lees (8 years fermenting on yeast) has allowed for a phenomenal amount of depth in flavour (strength) – this is no watery drop.
A sniff gives you a hit of fleshy stonefruit and flowers, and the roasted almond like yeasty notes that show up in the aroma translate beautifully into the honeyed introduction that all the best champagnes have. There is a lot of complexity to the flavour; spice, fruit like firm peaches, citrus, even cocoa – but all so well balanced that nothing seems off.
It’s a top drink – one of the best I’ve had. But for the cash outlay – you’d damn well hope it would be!
Another tick off my champagne bucket list…