‘Come quickly, I am tasting stars’ is the famed expression of a 17 century monk after his first taste of Champagne. The monk was Dom Perignon, the cellar master of the Benedictine Abbey, Hautvilliers. Diverging from common legend, he pioneered winemaking techniques such as blending grapes, the introduction cork and enhanced the use of natural sugar. He did not invent the Champagne method, the advent of which occurred naturally due to the cool winters and warm spring months in Champagne.
In 1937 Moet et Chandon purchased the eponymously named Dom Perignon from Eugene Mercier. This has become their prestige vintage Champagne, meaning it is not made in poor vintages and is matured for 3 years, opposed to non-vintage champagne which has the minimum requirement of 1.5 years. Dom Perignon has true global recognition, the 1981 vintage was served at Lady Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding, as well as the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire.
Dom Perignon’s assemblage is based on 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay and offers wonderful vibrancy and complexity as soon as it is released, incredible nuance and delicacy after 15-20 years and elegance and incredible layers after 30.
2003 offers great price vs. quality ratio; £445 for a half case and awarded 94+ by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. Antonio Galliano described this vintage as both unusual and a potentially iconic wine due to its power and texture; it is certainly a vintage capable of scoring above 95 points after a few more years in bottle. The 2000 and 1995 vintages both trade above £750 a case and scored 94 points, the 2003 therefore, has plenty of head room.
‘The 2003 is one of the most unusual Dom Perignons I have ever tasted, going back to 1952. … The 2003 Dom Perignon is a big, broad shouldered wine. It does not have the seductiveness of the 2000, nor the power of the 2002. It is instead very much its own wine. In 2003 Geoffroy elected to use more Pinot Noir than is typically the case, and that comes through in the wine’s breath and volume. The 2003 is a big, powerful Champagne that will require quite a bit of time to shed some of its baby fat. The trademark textural finesse is there, though. I expect the 2003 to be a highly divisive Champagne because of its extreme personality, but then again, many of the world’s legendary wines were made from vintages considered freakish at the time.’
The 2003 is an atypically, rich, powerful, vinous Dom Perignon loaded with fruit, structure and personality. It is not for the timid, but rather it is a wine for those who can be patient. No one has a crystal ball, but personally I will not be surprised if in 20 years’ time the 2003 is considered an iconic Champagne. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2038. 94 Antonio Gallioni (Nov 2011)
We believe this can be consumed now, or laid down for decades. This is undervalued compared to similar leading prestige Champagnes and vintages.