Saturday, 23 May 2015

Dom Pérignon Unveils 2005 Vintage

Producer: Dom Pérignon

It was all glitz and glamour at the F1 Pit Building last month during the unveiling of Dom Pérignon’s latest vintage. Titled “The Three Faces of Dom Pérignon”, the event featured Dom Pérignon Vintage 2005, Dom Pérignon Vintage Rosé 2003 and Dom Pérignon P2 Vintage 1998. As usual with anything involving a brand under the Louis Vuitton conglomerate, it was a smoothly run operation with a twist designed to surprise and awe. The wines were initially concealed behind curtains that were pulled back to reveal three art installations purposefully designed around highlighting the main theme of each wine. I paused for a while to admire the evocative series of photos entitled “Fly for Me” by Yian Huang. Depicting dancers from Studio Harmonic in Paris in various jumps and poses, the exhibition was meant to convey the impression of Intensity associated with the Dom Pérignon P2 Vintage 1998.

Dom Pérignon wines to me have always had a certain pent-up energy about them, especially compared side-by-side to that other luxury cuvee, Krug, which tends to be more broadly opulent. A glass of Dom frequently gives the feeling of bottled electricity, and it is worth waiting a couple of minutes after the wine is poured to let it breathe. As amply demonstrated by the P2 1998, it is a wine capable of extended aging. The P2 1998 was launched in Singapore last year at the old Tanjong Pagar railway station. This is a late-release champagne that has seen longer aging on its lees in the winery, resulting in more complex aromatics and flavours.

The 2005 vintage was considered a good but not great year in Champagne. The growing season was warm and wet, leading to problems with rot and mildew in the vineyard. The Pinot Noir component especially suffered from botrytis, and because of this the Dom Pérignon 2005 is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir rather than the usual more-or-less equal proportion. The house describes it as a wine that is “structured, focused, firm and dense”, with a “never-before-seen aromatic maturity”. Stockists in Singapore have begun selling the 2005, and I recently received a mailer from Crystal Wines offering it at SGD209.

My favourite wine of the night was the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2003, which will be featured as the Wine of The Month. I am not usually a fan of rosé champagne, finding many of them to be rather nebulous and lacking in concentration, but this was a firm exception with brilliant fruit and density. This is in part due to the weather conditions of 2003 which saw a strong heatwave in Champagne that helped the grapes reach high levels of sugar content. Janice Wong of dessert bar 2am described this wine as being “bold and voluptuous”. Her piece, a table and ceiling panel of edible art featured rehydrated dried fruits such as figs and reduced nectarine, and plum coated with berry powder.

It seems that creative uses are increasingly being devised for champagne – as bathwater or facial mist for example – but for those are interested in actually drinking the stuff, my tasting notes are below.

Champagne: Versatile

Tasting notes:

Dom Pérignon 2005 – The nose is fresh and to the fore, showing youthful, exuberant energy. By contrast the first sip was rather reserved, but after a few minutes the lemon meringue, chalk and Seville orange fruit starts to show through as the flavours of the wine unfold like a fan. I would advise that each sip be slowly savoured, but you’ll quickly discover the impossibility of that.

Dom Pérignon P2 1998 – Precise and powerful with aromas of pastry, apple, praline and burnt maple syrup. The palate shows sharp focus and is still surprisingly youthful with crackling vitality and a gossamer sparkle. A real treat, but I would not say that the wine has hit its peak just yet.

Dom Pérignon Rosé 2003 – Made from south-facing vineyards in Hautvillers, Ay and Bouzy. The wine was aged for 10 years on its lees. Winemaker Richard Geoffroy has walked a tightrope with this difficult vintage, coaxing the Pinot Noir component of this wine to yield ripe, dazzling fruit without sacrificing poise and thrilling tension. Juicy Amaou strawberry, sweet pomegranate and a savoury line of just-popped toast linger on the palate, combining complexity with a welcoming accessibility. 

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