I remember vividly the two types of customers who coveted Dom Perignon Rose. There was the geeky Champagne collector who had an intimate knowledge of all the vintages and variations and then there was the Warlord-types who drink it everyday and live in central London for half the year for tax (and other) reasons.
Not in either camps, it was a happy coincidence to be invited to the launch of the latest 2002 vintage at the eccentric Leighton House in Holland Park. The house is saturated in Middle-Eastern colours: turquoise, rose and golds, wonderfully rich and complex. We sat around a splash pool, similar to those found in Moroccan riads, strewn with blushing lotus flowers and embedded with mirrors in the shape of Dom Perignon labels. With all this attention to detail was it any wonder that I asked the waiter with peacock-coloured eyes if LVMH had given him special contact lenses for the day (there was a stuffed peacock in the stairwell against a turquoise-tiled wall). It was a precise event for a precise effect: for a Champagne at this price protestations against the event (by some journalists on twitter) is like preferring to drink in a studio-flat in Maida Vale rather than the Taj Mahal.
The Tales of 1001 Arabian nights continued with Sheherazade-like speech by Richard Geoffroy on the vintage that was almost impossible to take notes. Instead I concentrated on what was in the glass, but even that was like holding on tight to a flying Arabian carpet.
If you are interested in serious Champagne like this, then perhaps a tasting note will only take away rather than add to your enjoyment. For those who are on the more nerdier-side of Champagne, or are interested in the mechanics of magic, you will find this vintage fuller, rounder and at a louder volume than 1990, which is considered closest in style to the 2002 according to Geoffroy.
The 2002 vintage is more approachable now than 1996 and 2000 – two vintages that are not as enjoyable to drink now as this one and need a lot more time in the cellar. I would not hesitate drinking this now. In fact, I’d raise my glass for more if anyone questioned opening a bottle. It is decadent and serious fun.
The red fruit is evident on the nose suggesting a nod to Burgundy with an almost creamy palate with warm spice flavours. The magic carpet ride continued with a three-course dinner prepared to bring out the layers of flavour in the Champagne. If you want to drink Champagne with dessert then you will find this one rises to the occasion: it swept up the femme fatale Clementine (sorbet) in its strong arms with a big liquorice kiss.