If you’re a fan of 007 then odds are you remember James Bond sharing the screen with a very famous Champagne. Dom Pérignon, the prestige vintage cuvée of Moët & Chandon, made an appearance in the very first Bond movie, the 1962 Dr No. It has appeared in seven 007 movies since! You may recall the scene in Dr No when Bond (Sean Connery) grabs a bottle to bash a guard with: “That’s a Dom Pérignon ’55 – it would be a pity to break it,” says Dr. No, quietly. “I prefer the ’53 myself,” responds Bond.

Since the debut release of the 1921 vintage in 1936, Dom Pérignon – the world’s first prestige Champagne – has been the preferred Champagne of the rich and famous. Apparently Marilyn Munroe’s favourite vintage was also the 1953. Andy Warhol was a fan, and the Shah of Iran ordered several magnums of the Dom Pérignon Rosé for his wedding in 1959. Magnums of the 1961 vintage were served at the 1981 Royal wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer. (Some critics consider the 1961 vintage the best to date).

All this from a wine named in honour of a 17th century Benedictine monk! Of course, Dom Pérignon was no ordinary monk. He was cellar master at the Benedictine Abbey in Hautvillers, and responsible for introducing the cork to keep the wine fresh and sparkling. He also improved blending techniques and used a thicker glass so the bottle was less likely to explode!

According to Antonio Galloni of the Wine Advocate, upholding the remarkable legacy of Dom Pérignon has not stopped the current winemaker, Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy, from taking risks to improve the wine’s style and quality, especially with regards to the Dom Pérignon Rosé:

While the 2002 Dom Perignon and 1996 Dom Perignon Oenothèque  are both for the most part representative of what readers have come to expect from this house, the 2000 Dom Perignon Rose and 1990 Dom Perignon Rose Oenothèque are wines that push the envelope and push it hard. I can’t think of another winemaker at a Grande Marque who is willing to take these kinds of risks by turning well-established conventions on their head. Much of what I tasted reminded me of the experimental, searching spirit that defines so many of the smaller-production, artisan Champagnes being made today. As the saying goes ‘no guts no glory’ and there is plenty of both here. These wines are nothing short of magnificent.  The Wine Advocate, # 192 Dec 2010)

I was fortunate to share a bottle of the 2002 vintage recently with friends. A few of us thought the wine was just a bit young, and interestingly Galloni gives an anticipated maturity date of  2012 to 2032, so it seems like we were right on that score!

Nevertheless, the wine was still absolutely superb drinking. The intense floral aromas and fine beading were complemented with fresh and exotic fruit flavours gently caressed by a silky texture that will develop more softness and complexity over time.

Vintages of Dom Pérignon are available on the Cellarit Wine Market. Also, see Wine Gifts.

For a complete account of James Bond’s champagne choices, see LisaShea.com