Anne Krebiehl MW joins chef de cave Vincent Chaperon in Venice for the typically flamboyant launch of Dom Pérignon Rosé 2009.
There are two attributes that habitually characterize the launch of a new Dom Pérignon vintage; or rather, a curious combination of the two—namely, lavishness and vagueness. And so it was with the launch of the 2009 Dom Pérignon Rosé. The event was themed around the motto “From Matter to Light” and took place in Venice. Such excursions are not new—I remember marveling back in 2013 when I read about an East/West-inspired extravaganza that took place in Istanbul for the launch of the wine’s 2002 vintage.
So, off to Venice, and off to the island of Murano and the glass workshop of Effetre, only producer of so-called murrine or millefiori, tiny pieces of colored glass later used as colorful elements in glassmaking. The murrine are made by aligning different colors of glass in a single rod, the pattern thus created is only revealed when that rod is cut in diameter, not unlike a piece of candy cane or rock, just far more precise and beautiful. They will be used like mosaic pieces to make drinking glasses, vases, and other artifacts. Work at the factory was in full swing. As if the heat of the day was not enough, or the blaze of colored glass shards in the backyard, the temperature radiating from the furnaces was sweltering. Imperturbable artisans pulled lumps of molten glass into long strands that looked much like caramel and hardened as we looked. The intricacy of their work became apparent as we saw the stores of finished rods, a polychromatic multitude of little stars and flowers. The parallel that the Dom Pérignon marketing department intended to communicate was clear: Effetre made color, pattern, and beauty through which light can break, from nothing more than molten sand and soda—in the case of the murine, with the admixture of certain metals and elements to lend color—while Dom Pérignon fashioned wine, every bit as dazzling as the colorful glass, from soil, water, and vine.
The evening saw us all conveyed to Palazzo van Axel, where Vincent Chaperon said that this was his 25th year at Dom Pérignon and his fifth since taking over from Richard Geoffroy as chef de cave. In a medieval Venetian palazzo, with a terra-cotta floor and walls hung with collages of harvest photos and tasting notes, he said creating Dom Pérignon was about “radicality, about transformation”; that Dom Pérignon was always made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but that it “was difficult to mix, to integrate the black and the white. We need to push everything we do to the limit. With 2009,” he said, “we come back to what I like—to the matter, to the fruit,” adding that the challenge with the 2009 Dom Pérignon Rosé was “to elevate, transform, embody all of the glorious fruitiness of the harvest of 2009—including the softness, bitterness, roundness, mellowness, the flesh, and all the fruit.”
Dom Pérignon Rosé is always aged longer than its white counterpart, the house noting that the pink wine always requires a minimum of 12 years of aging before release, whereas eight years is considered the minimum for white releases. This iteration of Dom Pérignon Rosé is a blend of 56 percent Pinot Noir of which 13 percent was red wine, accounting for the intense color; 44 percent is Chardonnay. It was disgorged in April 2022 with a dosage of 5g/l. The main constituents of this vintage—without any more detail on the proportions—were sourced from the grands crus of Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, and Le Mesnil, as well as from the home premier cru of Hautvillers.
These details, however, were only shared well after the event—there was no place for technical info on the night. Instead, the wine was put through its paces in a menu devised by acclaimed Italian chef Massimiliano Alajmo. Some courses worked better than others, but it is certainly clear that Dom Pérignon Rosé is, above all, a gastronomic wine. The standout offering was Alajmo’s spaghetti freddi di mare. This dish of cold pasta was as deep an evocation of the sea as I have ever tasted, an assault of umami and oceanic, iodine expanse, with notions of sea urchin and seaweed; these were sensations with which the wine could clearly cope but to which it was not ideally suited. It was the perfect foil, however, for a tarragon risotto with matcha tea and yellow tomato; the slight bitterness of the matcha picked up the phenolic element in the wine while the creamy al dente risotto was enveloped by the wine’s roundness. So, yes: lavish and vague—but certainly delicious, too.
Dom Pérignon Rosé 2009
Just like the very first Rosé made by the house from the 1959 vintage, this is from a warm year with a “perfect” August and a harvest that remained warm. Due to its undoubted ripeness and roundedness, it can be enjoyed from the off—it is ready and alluring now, with a mid-term trajectory. A deep, orange-tinged pink hue. The very first whiff is of truffle, followed by the richness of hibiscus, orange, and rosehip tisane. The palate has all the roundness, fleshiness, and generosity of ripest peach and even red plum fruit, made even rounder by the smooth, creamy foam. As the wine warms on the palate, it reveals more truffle overtones, hints of melted butter, a notion of chalkiness, and a bitter edge that is as mouthwatering as the dried grapefruit-peel brightness and spice that define the finish. 95