Both Andy Warhol and the venerable Pérignon are no doubt gently riddling in their graves. I of course refer to the recent release of the tri-brightly coloured Andy Warhol “tribute” DP bottles. Yet, despite the eagerness to indulge in such crass marketing ploys (and who wouldn’t if they work?) Moët still occasionally make, unlike corpses, implausibly good wines. And the contents of these inspired creatively, arty, creative bottles is just that – implausibly good, filled as they are with the pinnacle of fluid subtly and loveliness that is Dom Pérignon 2002.
I was fortunate enough to try it alongside a glass of Krug 1998 at a Champagne event in the capital last week. I’m sure that tried in isolation or indeed along with more or less any other Champagne, the Krug would have been more than impressive. The DP to my mind showed itself to be an off-duty thoroughbred race house gently twitching its muscular rear quarters – the very embodiment of latent power tempered by inherent grace. Despite its youth it seemed to possess a crystal-clear balance; that rare ability to exude both depth and transparency. The Krug, on the other hand, was a far more corpulent and pampered animal. Or if it were the same genus then it had had its hindquarters cleaved from its body, marinated in exotic spice and served with mushrooms in the quietly lavish and comfortable surrounds of an upmarket izakaya.
Via this annual event I have been observing the development of Cristal 2002 over the past few years. As a much bigger wine than the DP it lacks its rival’s impeccable poise in its extreme youth, but it is just beginning to really open up. Two years ago it was big and bland. Last year some of those autolytic notes were beginning to sneak through. This year it was positively pungent. I’m very grateful to Roederer rep for failing to organize the advertised 2004 vintage in time for the event.
The other highlight was the wines of Perrier Jouet which are always both safe and exciting. They seem to have the most consistently and stylistically excellent range of wines right from NV up to prestige cuveé level (although I have never had chance to try their ridiculously expensive Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs).
Its such a shame that all of the above wines are far beyond the means of most wine drinkers, including myself who only gets to drink such things because I work within the industry. It is a shame because while there are other regions which can provide equivalent quality at comparatively microscopic prices, what Champagne has to offer in terms of actual qualities is quite unique. Thank God there is plenty of superlative Sherry knocking about the place to keep our minds off financial implausibility of purchasing decent Champagne for oneself.