Dom Perignon’s century’s old legacy has fascinated wine lovers world over. Enjoy my travelogue of visiting Cheateau de Saran, which has been a historic testimonial of the Moet et Chandon hospitality for many wine connoisseurs .
If almighty was sprinkling nectar for epicurean way of life, possibly, it was speckled mellifluously in the Champagne region of France. It is France’s friendliest wine growing region with lush landscapes, sloping vineyards and pretty villages; Champanois or the natives are passionate sommeliers. We drove to Chateau de Saran, on the outskirts of Epernay, France where Moet et Chandon’s finest wine – Dom Perignon is produced. The breathtaking view of the vineyards from the historic manor tickles us to walk past the woods, amble in the hill and pluck Dom grapes. But we have arrived a week before the harvest, so the tickle remains…well, just a tickle. The estate of Chateau de Saran was bought in 1801 by Jean-Remy Moet. The Chateau was built in 1846 by the Moets to entertain friends and guests; the tradition is bespoke, the essence preserved beautifully.
This is an exclusive tasting of Dom Perignon Vintage 2000. “The 7 Sensualities” conceived by renowned Chef de Cave (Cellar Master) and Moet’s Chief winemaker, Richard Geoffroy since 2006 is a liberal gastronome experience that explores Dom vintages in its entirety matched with cuisine assembled from all over the world. The 2000 vintage released in 2008 from the cellars matured for seven years to express its opulence. The inventive six-course meal presents a distinct personality of the wine. The delicate balance between Chardonnay (white) and black (pinot noir) grapes is crucial, 2000 vintage echoes the same finish like its famed ilk.
Chateau de Saran built in 1846 by the Moets
We begin the ritual by sipping Pu Er tea (harvested in 2007) selected by Madame Tseng, a grand tea master settled in Europe. The tea very light in texture cleanses our palate for an extraordinary tipple tour. The first sensuality called Pure with fruit preparations begins with green ice plant leaves served on daikon, a white radish from Japan and Hyblon oil (extra virgin Olive oil). With the crunchy leaves, mild radish and oil, the champagne gives a strong and sharp tinge to our taste buds; second is a salad of Rambutan (known as lychee in South East Asia) and green mango soup that borrows from Thai cuisine, the third being fresh scallops with a dash of yuzu (small lime) and bamboo salt. The second sensuality is Tactile; Portugese Bacalhau (codfish) accompanied by truffle warmed in the fish juice, the peach slices on the meat smoothens the wine leaving a caress in the mouth. As we progress, the enthusiasm shoots up in anticipation of the next stimulation; chef Pascal Tingaud is elated with our reactions to his meticulous preparations.
Salad de Ramboutan (lychee)
Ice plant and chilled Hyblon olive oil
Sensuality number three is Glowing; three pieces of eggplant are smacked with Moroccan honey, dabbed in cumin, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic and lemon. It’s sweet and the wine goes in the subtle mode with a soft feel. Then follows the scrumptious Moroccan squab, served in three white clay pots; we savour couscous and the tender squab breast in broth spiced with Ras el hanout, a blend of 27 spices used in the Middle East and North Africa. This defines the fourth sensuality Carnal, when the wine is upbeat after it harmonizes with ras el hanout, the regal herb concoction of Arab cuisine. The carnal delight is also served with an aged blue-green Chen Yin tea harvested in 1992; it only motivates us to see what’s slated next.
Aubergine smacked with Moroccan honey
Moroccan squab (pigeon)
Ethereal is the sixth sensuality, coconut ash pudding swathed in a banana leaf is dished; the sticky rice pudding despite being a Thai delicacy bears resemblance to Sushi. An amalgam of tea and pudding flourishes a new texture in the wine. The last sensuality, Complex born by the blaze of a Cuban cigar was improbable following the recent smoke ban in France. Hence, the sixth sensuality was the finale to an impeccable detour of our French rendezvous. At the end of the “7 Sensualities” meal course, one only confirms for posterity, that French will always be more refined than their European neighbours.
Caviar with Saffron ice cream
Tea and Coconut ash pudding
Dom Pierre Perignon was a 17th Century Benedictine monk, who added sparkle in the wine, we now know as Champagne. His champagne process put bubbles in the drink; we now take for granted. He later sold the method to the Moet & Chandon House who has named their premium range after the monk.
The fable goes that the monk was blind in his last years; when he first drank the champagne, he’s said, “I am drinking stars.” Although it’s a myth, the connoisseurs would happily accept it as real.
Statue of Dom Pierre Perignon outside Moet office in Epernay