Tim Hall experiences the launch of Dom Pérignon 2004
I love a good launch. And if you make the world’s most famous luxury wine, go for it. Why should fashion, top cars, restaurants and watches have the launch pad to themselves? Last week Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s cellar master, was in London to strut his stuff about Dom Pérignon 2004.
It was Hamlet, all elliptical word play. The next minute ruminating darkly on why Dom Pérignon is like it is. Geoffroy does troubled genius to a T. History’s pressure “not to drop the ball”, as he said, bears down on this wine and its creators since 1936; the first and oldest de luxe champagne.
Its established reputation meant London’s Bordeaux Index sold £1m worth in three hours the morning it was released, to clients who have parted with their money without tasting the wine. No doubt there was cash spare and unspent on Bordeaux 2012.
They need not worry. This wine, still a baby, has the quiet crystalline steeliness to one day be very complex and will sell then for far more than its price at birth. While I bow in awe at the power and drive of 2002′s great champagnes or worry over the hit and miss advanced warm roundness of 2003s, I love the compact structure and quiet intensity of the best 2004s.
This wine shows a limpid herb and mace spice nose held taut for now by wired fresh acidity. But nothing jars and while it interprets 2004 brilliantly, it is the very fine grain but precise mousse texture which signs it off as ‘DP’. Geoffroy said they make “the vintage within the envelope of Dom Pérignon” but above all “repetition is the enemy”.
Geoffroy has spoken before of how DP’s discreet character and introspective, shy expression tends to evoke sombre, dark, mild autumnal associations. And here the monochrome presentation room took me back to the abbey of Hautvillers, where I had smelled faint bonfire smoke and heard rustling leaves. Heck, Richard Geoffroy was even dressed for a funeral and on his way stepped in here to show his new wine as if by mistake. A very dark matter. A very good wine.
And outside London’s sun said ‘Summer’ for the first time this year.
* Tim Hall is a wine educator and event organiser who runs the Scala School of Wine