Today’s we’re toasting the arrival of a new week, a new month, and possibly a new beginning, with a quite fabulous Champagne, Dom Perignon 2006 Rosé.
Dom Perignon is the granddaddy of ‘prestigious cuvée’ Champagnes. It was launched by Moët et Chandon in 1935 with the 1921 vintage. The name comes from the Benedictine friar who was one of the first people to look at viticulture and wine making from a scientific perspective, though he almost certainly didn’t invent sparkling Champagne. His statue stands proudly outside Moet HQ in Epernay. The Dom was an exact contemporary of Louis XIV, both were born in 1638 and died in 1715.
An even more fancy Champagne brand was such a good idea that the other houses decided that they too needed their own. And lo, Louis Roederer created Cristal, Taittinger launched Comte de Champagne and Pol Roger honoured its most famous customer with Cuvée Winston Churchill.
But what exactly is a prestige cuvée?
You might be forgiven for thinking that these wines are all about bling and separating the wealthy from their money. To some extent they are, the packaging is lavish, prices are high and loudly ordering a magnum of Cristal in a trendy restaurant sends out a statement to those around you.
They are also usually exceptional wines. Dom Perignon has the might of LVMH behind it which means it can buy up the finest grapes, from the best and most expensive vineyards in Champagne. It means that the chef de cave (cellar master) has an exceptional palate of wines to choose from when making up his blends
They are not, however, rare. Every year journalists ask Vincent Chaperon how many bottles he producers and he bats away the question diplomatically but with a degree of irritation. It’s always the same journalists who ask the same question and the answer is alway the same, he’s not saying. The answer is probably in the millions rather than the thousands.
What wines like DP offer is something quite unusual in the wine world: a fine wine that is reliable and needs no further ageing, though will last for decades. Compare this with Burgundy which can be a lottery or Bordeaux where you need to keep the finest stuff for 15 years minimum before opening. With DP, and indeed Cristal et al, you should never be disappointed. It’s a wine for when you want to celebrate with complete confidence.
The 2006 vintage
Yes, DP is reliable but it should also reflect the vintage. Some years will be better than others and if the quality isn’t there, DP doesn’t release a wine.
The first rosé vintage was 1959. It’s only made in the right years, this 2006 was the first time the house had released five rosé vintages in a row, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006. In an interview with the Buyer, Chaperon described the vintage as “consistently warm throughout the vegetative period, the only exception to this was a cool and moist August. But the sun came back in September and we had four weeks of beautiful weather.”
It’s made by blending a white wine made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with about 20% red wine which is made entirely from Pinot Noir. Overall it contains 56% Pinot Noir and 44% Chardonnay. It’s sweetened with 6 grams of sugar per litre which is low for Champagne.
I’ve been fortunate enough to try this wine a couple of times and it’s a wine that reveals itself slowly. It repays tasting at a leisurely pace, not too chilled and ideally with food. The colour is a sort of orangey pink, very pale and fashionable. The palate is quite different, you can really taste the red wine. It’s tangy, meaty and full of red fruit along with orange peel and notes of biscuit and salted caramel.
If you’re looking for something fancy to toast the reopening of the world, then look no further.
Dom Perignon 2006 Rosé is available from Master of Malt.