Most Champagne is nonvintage. Instead, grapes from various years are blended to create a consistent flavour. (That’s why brands such as Veuve Clicquot always taste the same.)
In the best years, vintners will sometimes release a wine using only grapes from a singular, superior harvest.
2010 wasn’t one of those years. Much of the crop was lost after two months’ worth of rain fell over two days in mid-August. That led to an invasion of botrytis – or gray mould – and rot.
This year, Dom Pérignon became the first major house to release a 2010 vintage after discovering that as the surviving grapes ripened, they’d retained a high level of acidity, a rare occurrence.
Its small run (US$188 a bottle) balances rich fruit flavours with a refreshing character that Vincent Chaperon, the brand’s chef de cave, describes as "vigorous yet graceful."
Dom Pérignon can sometimes take awhile to open up to get the full expression of aromas, but the 2010 vintage is very accessible, thanks to the intensity of the chardonnay grapes and the acidity that helps keep the sweetness in check.
Notes of tropical fruits and crisp citrus combine for a long, lively finish. It’s powerful, but the concentrated flavours and balance are undeniably Dom.
You can pop it now, but if you’ve put your normal 2020 celebrations on hold, it can age for four or five years - or longer, if stored properly.
Dom Pérignon's competition in this space includes Champagne Pol Roger’s "Sir Winston Churchill", named for the prodigious bubbly lover who drank an estimated 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger in his life. The 2009 cuvée is its most recent vintage.
Krug’s Grande Cuvée takes a different approach. Its latest release, the 168th Edition, blends 2012 grapes with a mix of reserve wines from the previous decade.
Rounding out the trio is Louis Roederer Cristal, the house’s grand cuvée. Originally created for Tsar Alexander II, its 2012 vintage is made exclusively from grand cru vineyards and aged for six years before release.
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