The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom

“The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom…You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”

Well, for almost the first time in my life, I am actually beginning to understand what Willy Blake was on about here.

To ‘celebrate’ the end of what has been the most unusual year in the wine business for me, a small gathering, arrayed at the only restaurant in South America that can boast a wine list, quite rightly so, that lists all five first growth Bordeaux along with the higher echelons of local talent. Namely, the much sought after Estiba Reservada Catena Zapata 1990 and subsequent vintages, supported by other talents from Mendoza’s finest. We revisit Restaurant Roux!

Dom Perignon

On this occasion, the bubbles appeared courtesy of the majestic Hautvillerian, Benedectine Monk, namely Dom Pérignon.

Each vintage showing off the true character of one of the world’s great wines, that now and then, one is more than lucky enough and delighted to sip on even a single bottle of gloriousness. Today, we enjoyed five vintages next to each other, and how very lucky were we. All where in top condition. I don’t know what it is about Dom Pérignon that always tickles me. It could of course have something to do with that roguish British spy, Mister Bond. But either way, the presence of just a single bottle throws me into gastronomic vinosity, that one just does not want it to end. Ever!

Now, in order of the youngest wine first, and I did not even know that they had bottled the 2009 vintage until today, we carried on through to the 1985.

2009 Dom Pérignon
Thanks to the stretch of excellent weather in Champagne during 2009, this wine offered us a ripe, rich and generous guava and grapefruit nose. Lightly toasted brioche. A voluptuous palate and a remarkably restrained persistence.

2005 Dom Pérignon
A great vintage for all over France, marred a little in Champagne by the heatwave in August that was followed by cool, rainy weather in September. This caused a certain amount of rot in the Pinot Noir vineyards. Hence this wine is a little more than 60% (unusual for DP) Chardonnay. Intense, rich coriander like nose and a powerful, firm and flowery palate. Rich is the word.

1996 Dom Pérignon
If I remember correctly, when this wine came onto the market, no one really wanted it. For years it remained one of the Wine Trade’s secrets, as it was not expensive (then!), and we could all tuck into what was really a super, mature wine still in it’s youth. Today, it offered us a white peppery, peach nose leaving a well-defined praline palate with a hint of orange peel. Super balance.

Dom Perignon

1993 Dom Pérignon
Again, having been lucky enough to try this wine on several occasions over the years, it always surprises me how good it is. Never down as a big vintage, all the Dom Pérignon

characteristics are there. Lightly toasted brioche, peachy, herby and even a bit nutty. A creamy finish that just fills one with glee.

1985 Dom Pérignon
As those of us old enough to remember, 1985 was not only an exceptional year to go to the seaside, but the grape harvest in Champagne, and other European vineyards were ideal. Hence 32 years later, the intense acacia nose on this wine still holds up. Full and raisiny, with a dry figgy finish. The wine was decanted, and benefited greatly from this.

In an ideal world, if I could re-run the above, I would have decanted all of them, except the 2009. And on a temperature note, none of them were over chilled. Just slightly more chilled than cellar temperature.

“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it.” NB