Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dom Perignon 2000

Landmark vintages are a funny thing. Both 1900 and 2000 produced some remarkable Bordeaux (Chateau Margaux from the former is meant to be exquisite) and some remarkable prices to boot. At the time of the en primeur releases (and the first proper review tasting notes) there were quite a few cynical wine merchants scratching their chin stubble and wondering aloud whether it was somewhat convenient that such a landmark year produced such a landmark vintage. They still bought buckets of the stuff, obviously. And they made a packet. Until the hype surrounding 03's and 05's chipped away at those blue-chip 00's, proving that in the modern wine world a vintage is only great until the next great vintage. The prices more and more reflect exclusivity, desirability and a sense of get-it-before-anyone-else-does rather than actual quality of the wine. That's just a matter of points, apparently.

Recent economic disasters seem to be changing all this somewhat, and prices - while still outrageous - appear to be dropping daily, even for vintages hyped beyond all boundaries of common sense.

2000 sticks in my mind for a number of other reasons. It wasn't all that great throughout France, or Europe as a whole. The Rhône Valley didn't do too badly, Italy was still smiling about '97 and '99 and Burgundy was a bit of a minefield. The port houses all declared, but that's to be expected. They have the luxury of picking and choosing and 2000 was good enough to choose. I was just entering the wine trade while all these reports were coming out and it fascinated me. The ever-increasing hyperbole, prices and frenetic buying opened my eyes to the bewildering world of wine. Could a case of 12 bottles really be worth £4,000 while the wine was still in cask? Could I be offered the same 12 bottles 2 hours later for £5,000?

I'm older, wiser, grumpier and considerably more cynical now. En primeur season bores the shit out of me. My spam mailbox fills with brokers desperately trying to push case after case of 95-100 pointers at more money than I would ever, in good conscience or otherwise, pay for wine.

Champagne eluded the 2000 vintage hype, and for good reason. It wasn't a great vintage in Champagne. The wines are ok. Moët 2000 is particularly lovely, though that's more due to a radical (and long overdue) reform in winemaking and assemblage rather than the year itself. As it happens, I have no doubt that Dom Perignon 2000 will sell in vast quantities. It is the benchmark luxury champagne and - when it's great - it's one of the finest wines in the world. That perfectly round number on the label may even make it some form of collector's item. Well, even more of a collector's item than usual.

Dom Perignon 2000
Fresh green gold colour with an exciteable mousse composed of pinprick, hyperactive bubbles.
The nose is bursting with pear and white stone fruit with the barest hint of lemon citrus on the edges.
Silky palate of conference pears - not just in terms of flavour but texture as well, that graininess on the tongue. Nice finish. But it's a bit too youthful and pleasing for my taste. There's not a great deal of structure or acidity here. It's decadent, but in a light way. I'd call it elegant - but it doesn't have the structure for that. Perhaps it needs time, but I don't even get hints of a great future - just a pleasant now. I will come back to this in years to come, curious rather than eager.
Tasted in excellent and generous company at Naughton, 6/12/08

No comments: