Like a stone sharpens knives, adverse weather can make for a wonderful vintage in the world of wine, provided the winemaker knows how to handle it. In Champagne, 2013 was one of those years. An unusually wet and cold winter followed by a similarly inclement spring and early summer meant the vineyards were two weeks behind schedule through the year, despite a late-summer temperature spike. While this may sound like the knell for a successful vintage, many of Champagne’s foremost houses took advantage of 2013’s adverse weather conditions and late harvest, crafting wines that harken back to those produced before global warming. Dom Pérignon was one of those houses.
For Dom Pérignon Brut 2013, Vincent Chaperon, the esteemed brand’s chef de cave, harnessed the difficult vintage to produce a classic champagne of stunning clarity. The pinot noir (49 per cent) and chardonnay (51 per cent) grapes were harvested from September 28 to October 15—a late harvest in Champagne, where grapes have been picked as early as mid-August in recent years. For Dom Pérignon, “the 2013 winemaking year proved a welcome reconnection with the glorious past of late harvest vintages.”
What this means, at least according to those lucky enough to have tasted vintage champagnes from the last century, is 2013 produced wines of great finesse, leaning on electric acidity but with promising concentration thanks to lower yields and a late-summer heat spike. In the case of Dom Pérignon Brut 2013, vibrant floral and stone-fruit aromas lead into a semisweet citrus-tinged flavour profile that ends by bursting with untoasted nut and saline accents. The concentration is almost completely felt on the palate rather than tasted, the wine exerting its latent power in a well-rounded mouthfeel.