By: Gary Westby | K&L Champagne Buyer
One bottle: 2002 Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Rose
Cinnamon and I do not drink a lot of tete de cuvee Champagne from the grand marques at home. They don’t suit our tastes as much as the more human-scaled, terroir-specific grower wines, not to mention the fact that they are very expensive! This past Saturday night was an exception; we wanted to make the most of it and enjoy this bottle of 2002 Dom Perignon Rose in the spirit that it was intended. Cinnamon came up with the idea of making a mushroom risotto to pair, and her instinct for pairing was right on.
I cannot think of another producer that has such a huge difference in production scale and wine quality between their rose and regular blanc bottling than Moet with their Dom Perignon. While Moet has released 38 vintages of the Dom Perignon blanc, they have only released 22 vintage of rose skipping widely declared vintages such as 1976 and 1999. While no producer guards their production figures as closely as Moet guards their Dom Perignon figures, it is easy to see how much less of the rose is made. Every Costco stocks big stacks of DP blanc, you will find it on nearly every nice restaurants wine list and available at hotels from Norway to Chile, while the rose is rarely seen. It is always allocated to K&L and we can never get enough to satisfy demand.
Details on the composition of Dom Perignon wines are almost as difficult to come up with as the production figures. The two websites of Dom Perignon, http://www.creatingdomperignon.com/dom-perignon-rose-2002/ and http://www.domperignon.com/rose2002/ have lots of descriptive notes, and in case of the second some very fancy flash graphics, but no objective facts on the wine. This approach is frustrating to me, since real information on the wine itself allows the wine fan to make an informed purchasing decision and give us a deeper appreciation for the bottles that we drink.
Richard Juhlin in his book 4000 Champagnes describes Dom Perignon as a blend of approximately 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay, and notes the source of the red wine as Ay when he notes it at all. Since I can’t think of any writer that has spent more time at Moet or tasted more bottles of Dom Perignon (all of them, multiple times) we’ll use that as a reasonable approximation of the composition of the 2002. I wish I could do better, and will endeavor to!
While researching the background of this bottle was frustrating, drinking the wine could not have been easier. The 2002 Dom Perignon Rose is among the most elegant Champagnes that I have ever drunk. While past bottles of DP rose have been full of Vosne-Romannee savor, this 2002 has a much more pure strawberry like fruit at its core. The mushroom risotto that Cinnamon and I prepared to go with it coaxed out the Burgundian elements, but this wine could easily have made a great partner for wild salmon, or just a sunset. The wine is also very, very dry for grand marque Champagne, especially Dom Perignon, which has always leaned to the richer side. The cleanliness of the finish, with nice hints of chalk is not austere. Nothing sticks out 11 years from the harvest, and I can only imagine how much depth and complexity this wine will have with another 10, 20, 30 or more years in the cellar. If I could buy a case and follow its evolution over the years, I would.
I am certainly lucky to have had a chance to drink this wine once - certainly a better thing than getting to taste it twice! Wines of complexity do not reveal their secrets quickly; they give me the most pleasure with charming company and a thoughtful food pairing. Cinnamon provided both to me, as well as the recipe that follows for the risotto that we enjoyed.
Cinnamon Westby's Mushroom Risotto
Using a wide shallow pan, soften 1 diced shallot in a generous glug of olive oil on medium heat, add aprox 1 cup Arborio rice to coat with oil and stir around for about 4 minutes. Pour in a glass of dry white wine. (Don’t forget a glass for the chef!)
Begin adding hot chicken stock (homemade is best) one ladleful at a time, and stir until fully absorbed before adding the next. (It’s useful to have a second person in charge of adding the stock, and stirring the risotto) While this is happening, soak approximately ¼ cup dried porcinis in hot water to reconstitute them, and coarsely chop your other mushrooms. (We used chanterelles and king trumpets).
After soaking for about 10 minutes, the porcinis can be chopped and added to the risotto as you continue to incorporate the hot chicken stock.
Sautee the other mushrooms on medium high heat with a pat of butter, being careful not to overcrowd the pan and giving them plenty of time to brown. You could also add another glug of wine to the mushrooms and some chopped fresh thyme to the mushrooms for extra flavor.
When the risotto is done to your liking and still a little runny (about 25 minutes), add salt and pepper to taste and stir in ¾ cup whipped cream. (To make things easier, whip the cream and stick it in the fridge before you start the risotto. 1/3 cup cream becomes aprox ¾ cup, when whipped).
Dish up the risotto into warm bowls and top with the sautéed mushrooms and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
If you can afford a splurge, you will not be disappointed in the 2002 Dom Perginon Rose. Drink your bottles when the occasions come- this is spectacular Champagne now, and will continue to evolve and improve for decades. We are expecting ours to arrive at the end of the month, and it is available as special order here.
A toast to you,