Ah, Dom. Sedimentality wouldn’t be a true wine website without at least one article paying homage to this Champagne. I’m not one to get excited about overpriced wines, (I like to pride this website in basically only showcasing wines that are $20 or less!), but like a few pairs of shoes in my closet, my favorite jeans, and a few of my absolute must-have purses, some things are popular (and expensive) for good reason. Dom is one of them.
So why IS Dom so expensive? Production involves the method champenoise, which is detailed in the article about Champagne and Sparkling Wine Production. This is the most labor-intensive method, but it produces the most beautiful wines with the most delicate, long lasting bubbles (no one likes flat champagne!) and more intense and complex flavors and aromas.
You will also notice that Dom bottles have a vintage (in the case, I am reviewing the 2002 vintage). This is not particularly common with sparkling wines: many that you see in the store are a combination of several vintages, so they cannot be labeled a specific year. Dom only makes wines during the “best” years, so if the grapes are not up-to-snuff, there will be no wine for that year. Since the house opened in 1921, it has only produced 36 vintages. Geez! That sort of exclusivity and quality control make a wine’s price increase drastically. (FYI, the complete list of vintages for the regular Champagne and for the Rose are on Wikipedia.)
The Dom Perignon label has been a hit since the first vintage, which is from 1921, but was not released to the public for sale until 1936. That first vintage was a hit in the UK and in the United States: American Tobacco Company founder and billionaire James Buchanan Duke purchased 100 bottles for himself; in 2004, 17 bottles of those bottles were sold at Christie’s in New York City. (Apparently, his daughter had cellared them… why on earth anyone would let that many bottles of the first vintage of Dom Perignon sit around is beyond me!)
One final note on Dom Perignon before we get to the tasting notes: the winery’s namesake, Dom Perignon himself, was a Benedictine monk who lived 1638 to 1715. Contrary to popular belief, he did not “invent” champagne: he did, however, contribute vastly to the improvement of champagne production. We’ll go into that more at a later date, when I profile the Dom Perignon house under Winery Focus. For now, let’s talk about the wine!!!
Dom Perignon 2002 Tasting Notes
The classic French Champagne yeastiness immediately comes through, as do aromas of almond (I LOVE when I get this in French Champagnes!). These notes are alongside slight citrus, like lemon peel, and dried fruits. There is a complexity and a smokiness to it as well, a tinge of apple, and a beautiful, crisp, yet slightly creamy yeast finish. It is truly divine, and I hope that every sparkling wine lover gets to enjoy it at least once in their life.
I know that many argue that they would not know the difference between a good and a great wine, but trust me: over the holidays last year, we had four bottles of Dom Perignon alongside MANY other incredible sparkling wines: Schramsberg, Vueve Clicquot, Vueve Clicquot vintage… I could go on, but I don’t want to make anyone jealous. My point is simply that this wine truly STOOD OUT amongst these others, and anyone, regardless of whether or not their palate is “refined”, could taste a difference.
I recommend the wine with my sister-in-law’s delicious baked brie with cranberries and her salmon ball. Yum!