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A ceremony of the senses July 2, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Wine And Spirits.

Finding the right partners for one of the world’s best Champagnes

Anassa is the ancient Greek word for queen. Dom Perignon is considered by many as the queen of vintage Champagnes. It was not by accident then that Photiades Distributors, importers of Dom Perignon, choose the five-star Anassa Hotel in Paphos, Cyprus to launch the new 1998 vintage with its seven senses.

As legend has it, the Benedictine Monk, Dom Perignon invented Champagne. That is not the whole story. A few facts first: Champagne is three different things, a sparkling wine made in France; a geographic area in France, about one hour from Paris, and the only area where Champagne, the wine, can be produced; a name associated with large deposits of limestone (chalk) in the earth.

Dom Perignon, the man, was born about 1638. His full name was Pierre Perignon. He was a Benedictine Monk at the Abbey of Hautville near Riems in France. Wine was already being made in the Champagne region before Pierre was born but Dom Perignon’s legacy to the world was a procedure for the production of Champagne. This included riddling the ageing bottles so the sediment can be removed, adding a dosage for secondary fermentation and the use of corks to seal the bottles. These steps, combined with the availability of stronger bottles that could hold the added pressure, allowed the commercial production of Champagne to begin in about 1700. Dom Perignon died 16 years later. His famous statement, “I see stars”, was uttered upon his first taste of Champagne.

Dom Perignon, the Champagne, was first produced in 1936. Moet et Chandon, which purchased the Abbey of Hautville 120 years earlier, produced a super cuvee to celebrate the monk’s exploits. The champagne is only produced in exceptional vintages; in two styles, the Brut and the Brut Rose and in two sizes, 750ml bottle and 1.5l bottle. The name has become synonymous with class and stature. A gift of Dom Perignon will express that only the best will do.

Back to the 1998 vintage. The Anassa chef had created a menu to perfectly match the Dom Perignon 1996, one of my favourite vintages. Then, in a different room, the guests were exposed to the seven senses. Richard Geoffrey, Dom Perignon’s chef de cave, has hand picked seven exclusive delicacies that echo the sensuality of Dom Perignon vintage 1998. As we were enjoying this precious liquid, a Dom Perignon magnum was unveiled through a smoke screen. Then performers took us on a voyage through sophisticated taste sensations, which paired unaltered ingredients with the Dom.

The journey began on the shores of Mediterranean, a dialogue between two contrasting liquids, the Dom and Fontanasalsa olive oil from Sicily. The next stop was the Aquitaine region of France, where superior caviar is produced by Prunier. Eat this delicacy the traditional way, off the back of your hand, before you raise the flute. We crossed the Atlantic for the third sensual experience: Fundadores of Trinidad Cuban cigar, regal smoothness communicates perfectly with the aristocratic Dom. Onward to Asia, a rare poisonous blowfish, the fugu, which can be fatal if it is not correctly prepared by a fugu master, had its melting texture contrasting with the weightlessness of Dom. The Middle East was the next stop, where we discovered the strangely delightful combination of locum; with Dom, it creates indescribable sweet and textural sensations in the mouth. Back to France and the sixth sense was the special menu of southwestern French cuisine created with inventive, poetic approach by Darozze, a rare female chef who has been awarded two Michelin stars. The journey ended with an aroma, the pure scent of a Hawthorn candle by Diptyque of Paris, which provides the ideal introduction to the resonant bouquet of Dom Perignon.

Wine of the week
Dom Perignon 1996
Okay, so this is not the most exotic wine of the week I have ever chosen, nor one of the greatest bargains, but I thought it worth alerting you to the fact that this seems to be one of their best vintages. The 1996 is relatively tight and austere and should probably be kept and drunk after 1998. This cuvee is extraordinary open and ripe already, it hits the palate with such force it is easy to confuse its ripeness with sweetness but then, in Dom Perignon style, it tightens up immensely and finished with great race and refreshing dryness. The nose initially suggests something headily fragrant, lilies perhaps, but then develops in the glass to be much meatier and denser. Serve at 8 to 10 degr. C. Exceptional as an aperitif or with caviar, smoked salmon oysters and Chinese food slightly spiced.

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