As a bottle of Dom Pérignon leaves our cellars, it starts a new life in the hands of Dom Pérignon lovers who are eager to prolong our own quest for perfection. I am, for example, often asked how a bottle of Dom Pérignon should be stored. Ideally the conditions should be as close as possible to our cellars: dark, humid and at a stable temperature (around 12 degrees celsius).
Assuming proper conservation, the service of the wine is paramount to its appreciation. I have already mentioned the style of wine glass I generally consider best for Dom Pérignon wines, regardless of vintage. The temperature of service comes into play as well, influencing the sensory experience in ways that are rarely acknowledged to their full extent.
During our recent meeting, Gérard Liger-Belair mentioned that temperature affects multiple elements in champagne that can impact the perception during the tasting: for example as the temperature of service increases, the viscosity of the wine lowers, leading to bigger and more numerous bubbles.
To explore the effect of temperature in a more empirical way, I created a few years ago a special dinner with Philippe Mille, chef of two-starred Michelin restaurant Les Crayères in Reims, and his sommelier Philippe Jamesse. In order to show the differences between various temperatures of service, we imagined a scenario in which a bottle of Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1996 would be poured at all the temperatures between 8 and 16 degrees celsius, accompanied by specific dishes designed to complement its evolving personality.
Starting at 8 degrees the wine appeared more mineral, with its signature iodine character. Reaching 12 degrees and opening up with time, the bouquet became more complex, with earthy, smoky notes of sous-bois and truffles. Above 13 degrees, a phenolic quality started to appear, allowing us to push the envelope by pairing Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 with a tajine of lamb! Finally at 16 degrees an intense profile of hazelnuts and praline was a perfect match for a tarte tatin.
This experience, that I was glad to share with our guests, deepened our knowledge and understanding of Dom Pérignon. Once again our desire to challenge preconceived notions was met with success!