Friday, February 27, 2009

1969 Dom Pérignon

Sure, Dom Pérignon is a massive marketing success, sure it's nothing but a brand from Moët et Chandon, but let's be fair: it tastes pretty damned good. It has been consistently well-made for generations, and even though I prefer to support the small farmer-growers in Champagne, when an older Dom shows up, I can't resist it.

Dom Pérignon is a vintage Champagne, which means it's only made in what are considered "good" years. It's mainly a blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir, though this assemblage might vary from year to year depending on the quality of those grapes. It was first made in 1921, and since then has been a fantastic marketing and qualitative success. As someone who represents small wineries, it pains me to admit it, but this stuff is pretty damned good, considering it's from a huge comglomerate. Best of all, it ages beautifully.

And as someone who appreciates a good bottle of older Champagne, I can really appreciate the beauty of older Doms. The other night a friend popped a 1969 Dom Pérignon, and once again I was reminded of one of the side-benefits to being a wine lover: the generosity of spirit that prevails among our kind.

This wine was absolutely beguiling. When it was first popped, it was a bit cold, but as it warmed up it began to unfold, offering stunning aromas of light coffee, brioche, white chocolate, soft lemons and gorgeous minerality. The finish went on and on and on, and I was hard-pressed not to empty the glass in one fell swoop. My patience was well rewarded, and I enjoyed this for a long time. I tried not to think that I was drinking a bit of history, drinking a wine that was made before I was born, and I think I succeeded. In any case, I really liked this bottle.

Can you tell?

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