by Giulio Saverino
Founder and director of wine at Wine n’ About, and sommelier at 661 Silom
Once upon a time there was a monk named Dom Pérignon who accidentally discovered the benefits of bottling the wine before completing the fermentation. He was heard declaring, “Come quickly! I’m drinking stars.”
We don’t know if this story is true, but he is credited with the invention of sparkling champagne, which didn’t become the dominant style of Champagne until the middle of the 19th century.
Dom Pierre Pérignon was a French Benedictine monk who, irrespective of the truth of this story, made important contributions to the production and quality of wine in an era when the region’s wines were predominantly still red. The famous Champagne Dom Pérignon, the prestige cuvée of Moët & Chandon, is named after him, and the remains of the monastery where he spent his adult life are now the property of that winery.
During Pérignon’s era, the in-bottle refermentation that gives sparkling wine its sparkle was an enormous problem for winemakers. During the autumn, when the weather cooled off, refermentation would keep fermentable sugars from being converted into alcohol. If the wine was bottled in this state, it became a bomb. When the weather warmed, the sleeping yeast roused the sugars and began generating carbon dioxide in a buildup of gas that would at best push the cork out of the bottle and at worst, explode, starting a chain reaction.
Dom Pérignon set a series of rules to avoid this refermentation.
The Dom Pérignon’s style—intense,
Full-bodied, and hedonistic—is distinctive. While some in Champagne seem to strive to make wines that won’t get noticed, Dom Pérignon tries to stand out.
While many houses use blending to try to make more or less the same wine every year, Dom Pérignon is vintage only. Each vintage wine is created from the best grape grown in one single year, in order to reinvent itself by interpreting the unique character of the seasons.
Dom Pérignon is secretive about production numbers, but the total number of bottles is said to be in the millions per vintage, compared with a few hundred thousand for, say, a big Bordeaux chateau. Nonetheless, Moët & Chandon owns virtually all of the vineyards from which Dom Pérignon is sourced—a luxury in Champagne, where many of the big houses buy grapes from outside suppliers, giving them less control over quality.
I personally consider these as the best vintages: 2004, 2002, 1996, 1990, 1985, 1982, and 1976.
The best way to appreciate the rich, complex flavors and aromas is to use standard wine glasses or signature Dom Pérignon glasses, not narrow Champagne flutes. Flutes, which emphasize the bubbles over the flavors, are fine for non-vintage Champagnes.
With an exquisite taste and a history dating back to the Benedictine monks of 1668 and Pierre Pérignon, the father of Champagne, Dom Pérignon, is revered as one of the world’s finest Champagnes.
Within 661 Silom (661 Baan Silom Building 3, Room A3, B3, Silom Road
Silom, Bangkok, 02 266 8661, www.661silom.com) resides the Dom Pérignon Lounge, which is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. We wanted to create something exclusive … and nothing is more exclusive and unique than Dom Pérignon.
Thanks to our partnership with Dom Pérignon, guests can enjoy a glass or a bottle of Dom Pérignon at unbeatable prices, as well as enjoy rare Dom Pérignon vintages, such as the 1976.
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