Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dom Perignon introduces ...

Champagne house Dom Perignon launched its Dom Perignon Brut 2002 and Dom Perignon Oenotheque Brut 1996 in a live webcast on July 12th from decanter.com's headquarters in London.  The launch event was a tasting which also included the Dom Perignon Rose 2000 and the Dom Perignon Oenotheque Rose 1990.  The tasting panel was led by Richard Geoffroy, Dom Perignon's Chef de Cave, and included Decanter contributors Sarah Kemp and Margaret Rand.  The session was moderated by John Abbot of Decanter.

The format for the webcast was interesting.  The tasting panel and guests were ensconced in a room on the 12th floor of the Decanter building (the only floor with a view, according to John Abbot) while a worldwide audience tapped into the tasting via a text-only stream or a text-and-video stream.  Attendees signed in using Twitter, Facebook, or openID accounts and, once signed in, had the potential to pose questions to the panelists (Most of the questions were directed at Richard and many of them were broad Dom Perignon questions rather than being specifically about the wines being tasted.).

The first wine tasted was the Vintage 2002.  This particular vintage was released 8 years after harvest while, traditionally, Dom vintages are released 6 to 7 years after harvest.  Richard saw no significance in this fact.  Sarah Kemp was first to comment on the wine and declared it a "very Burgundian champagne" with a "full, rich, Montrachet style" and having "extremely expressive notes of hazelnut and brioche." Margaret Rand saw the wine as "immensely rich and concentrated" but noted that it wore its weight lightly.  It was "very, very elegant and linear, supple and terrifically long."  Richard Geoffroy focused on the overall mouthfeel, a direct result, he stated, of the blending.  Such a mouthfeel could not have been achieved with a single grape variety.

This vintage was disgorged 15 months ago and will pair well with seafood, in general, and specifically, with crab.

The second wine tasted was the Oenotheque 1996.  Margaret Rand stated that 1996 was a year of enormous acidity which usually yielded great wines but on the lean side.  She felt that the Oenotheque 1996 would be "young and tight" because of its recent disgorgement and found that to be the case.  She found the wine to have "powerful toasty notes and huge weight" and an "enormous finish."  This was a complex, mineral wine.  Richard saw the wine as "packed with serious flavors" to include, smoke, minerality, toast, and iodine.

This vintage was disgorged 2 years ago and pairs well with caviar or very intensely flavored flat oysters.

In responding to a question on the difference between the Vintage 1996 and Oenotheque 1996, Richard stated that the primary difference was mouthfeel.  The Oenotheque had a creamy expansion and a glide to the finish while the Vintage was a more classical champagne.  It was more linear and then tailed into something marginally dried out.

Richard also re-emphasized the Dom Perignon philosophy that the wine be a perfect balance of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  This does not necessarily imply a 50/50 mix; it is driven by taste and will vary somewhere between 40% and 60% for each varietal.  The more classical vintages are on the Chardonnay side, according to Richard, because it is not as intense as the Pinot Noir.

The panel continued on to taste the other wines but that does not fall under Dom Perignon introduces ...

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