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Dom Perignon 2003
Unfortunately there is only one new release from Dom Perignon this year. The 2003 is one of the most unusual Dom Perignons I have ever tasted, going back to 1952. Readers will remember that 2003 was a torrid vintage across northern Europe, especially during the critical month of August, when temperatures remained very hot for well over a month. The harvest was the earliest on record, until 2011, that is. I suppose its not that surprising Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy chose to make a 2003 Dom Perignon, given his penchant for risk-taking, an approach that has yielded so many memorable wines that stretch the perception of what big brand Champagne is and can be. 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.
The Moet & Chandon Brut Champagne Cuvee Dom Perignon 2003, which will be released early next year, displayed rich aromas of honey, brioche and hints of vanilla. Though round and sumptuous, there was bright citrus, peach and a focus on the finish that retained elegance, freshness, finesse and complexity (94 points, non-blind). With air, it became more textural, with a ginger note and a distinctive mineral streak.
Pale yellow-gold. A highly perfumed bouquet evokes lemon pith, pear, iodine and chalky minerals. Ripe and densely packed but lively, offering candied citrus fruit flavors and deeper notes of anise and fig. Becomes spicier and stonier with air, finishing with strong punch and lingering smokiness and minerality. More open-knit and overtly ripe that most of the 2002 version, with plenty of depth and the richness and weight that distinguish this hot vintage.
An impressive take on the 2003 vintage, this layers broad, rich and toasty flavors into a powerful wine. It's full-bodied, almost meaty in its satisfying depth. Match its warmth to ris de veau.
Dom Perignon is made through an assemblage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, created by using only the best grapes harvested from the 17 Grands Crus in Champagne and the Premier Cru of Hautvillers. One of the principle hallmarks of this House is its absolute commitment in only releasing in a vintage year. This commitment to vintage only requires Dom Perignon to reinvent itself every year, staying true to the daring and creative principles laid down by the Dom Pierre Pérignon himself. Today, this vision is led by Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave.
The flagship of the House – the Vintage Blanc – is a perfect example of the intricacy of Dom Perignon, expressing the perfect harmony and savoir-faire of the wine making process, while the other key pillars; Vintage Rose and P2 Blanc both bring their own different and exciting elements to be explored.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism...
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture...
An easy-going red variety with generous fruit and a supple texture, Merlot’s subtle tannins make it perfect for early drinking and allow it to pair with a wide range of foods. One simply needs to look to Bordeaux to understand Merlot's status as a noble variety. On the region’s Right Bank, it dominates in blends with Cabernet Franc, and on the Left Bank, it plays a supporting role to (and helps soften) Cabernet Sauvignon—in both cases resulting in some of the longest-lived and highest-quality wines in the world. They are often emulated elsewhere in Bordeaux-style blends, particularly in California’s Napa Valley, where Merlot also frequently shines on its own.
In the Glass
Merlot is known for its soft, silky texture and approachable flavors of ripe plum, red and black cherry, and raspberry. In a cool climate, you may find earthier notes alongside dried herbs, tobacco, and tar, while Merlot from warmer regions is generally more straightforward and fruit-focused.
Lamb with Merlot is an ideal match—the sweetness of the meat picks up on the sweet fruit flavors of the wine to create a harmonious balance. Merlot’s gentle tannins allow for a hint of spice and its medium weight and bright acidity permit the possibilities of simple pizza or pasta with red sauce—overall, an extremely versatile food wine.
Since the release of the 2004 film Sideways, Merlot's repuation has taken a big hit, and more than a decade later has yet to fully recover, though it is on its way. What many viewers didn't realize was that as much as Miles derided the variety, the prized wine of his collection—a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc—is made from a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.