Dom Pérignon 1961 – The Choice of Charles and Diana
Gilded by the morning sun, the Buckingham Palace balcony awaited its grand moment, empty. The street parties that had gone on through the night in London had quietened down, and the square in front of the balcony began to fill with citizens, press and tourists hungry for romance. As the time neared ten o’clock, the crowds were about to be rewarded for their patience.
At 10:30 a.m. exactly, royal carriages started out from the Palace, marking the beginning of a precisely orchestrated royal performance. The first carriage bore the groom, HRH Prince Charles, accompanied by his brother, Prince Andrew. Five minutes later, the future Princess of Wales and the heroine of the day, Lady Diana Spencer, stepped into a carriage at the Queen Mother’s house, accompanied by her father. Her face was concealed by a veil and the first glimpse could be caught of the wedding dress designed by Emmanuel, which had until then been a closely guarded secret. The huge sleeves, ruffles and lace of the dress, as well as the long train – whose length had been calculated and tested according to the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral – filled up the carriage, just as they had filled most of the column space in the British media for weeks.
As the royal carriages travelled towards St. Paul’s they caused a wave of euphoria, a massive sea of sound, whose hundreds of thousands of congratulations and tears still rippled through the streets of London the next day. Tears welled into many eyes outside of London, too, as an estimated 750 million viewers around the world followed the fairy-tale wedding on TV.
Excitement and nerves were palpable during the wedding ceremony. The young bride stumbled over the order of the names of her husband-to-be, but she was not alone: the groom also promised to share with her “thy worldly goods” instead of his own. The ceremony with its three thousand guests was festive and moving.
One of the climaxes of the long day was the opening of the doors to the patiently waiting balcony at Buckingham Palace, at exactly 1:15 p.m. The 20-year-old newly minted Diana, Princess of Wales stepped out with her husband, Prince Charles. Hundreds of thousands of well-wishers surrounding the Palace witnessed their kiss.
After the famous kiss and the official wedding photography session by Lord Snowdon, the Queen invited friends and family for a wedding breakfast at Buckingham Palace. The dinner consisted of brill in lobster sauce, supreme de volaille Princesse de Galles (chicken breast stuffed with lamb mousse) and strawberries with cream from Cornwall. All the dishes were served on golden plates and accompanied by the finest of champagnes: Dom Pérignon 1961.
Ninety-nine magnum bottles of the 1961 vintage of Dom Pérignon, which is considered by many experts to be one of the best champagnes ever produced, were specially brought from the Moët & Chandon champagne cellars for the wedding. A further twelve magnums of the same vintage were ordered, six for Palace staff and six for charity. According to Moët & Chandon, this specific cuvée was never released for public sale.
Tastingbook have tasted the 1961 Dom Pérignon on several occasions, but these specific magnum bottles always carry a special significance. A special label was designed for the wedding magnums to tell the tale of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana on 29 July 1981. These bottles were recorked in 1981, which means that they have more of the autolytic character brought by recorking than other bottles from that year.
At the end of the 17th Century, Dom Pierre Pérignon stated his ambition to create ‘the best wine in the world’. On 29 September 1694, Dom Pierre Pérignon wrote that his mission was to create “the best wine in the world.” He dedicated himself to improving viticulture techniques, perfecting the art blending grapes from different crus, and introduced the gentle and fractional pressing to obtain white wine from black grapes.Ever since, the House of Dom Pérignon has perpetuated this visionary approach instilled by its founder, one that remains a hallmark of true luxury: the constant reinvention of the exceptional.
Under the creative leadership of cellar master Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon is reinvented with every vintage. The miraculous concept of assemblage – the delicate balance between Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – and the commitment to Vintage are instrumental in the act of creation, revealing the wine's extra soul. Precise and tactile to the point of seamlessness, tense through rhythm and vibrancy, vigorous and fresh yet mature, intense and complex – such is the sensual style of Dom Pérignon: so inviting, yet so mysterious...
The core of the blend are the eight historical Grands Crus, Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize and Le Mesnil, plus the legendary Hautvillers Premier Cru. Dom Perignon also has the unique privilege of being able to select grapes from all 17 Grands Crus in Champagne. giving birth to Dom Perignon's highly intriguing contrast".
DOM PÉRIGNON VINTAGE 1961 /THE HARVEST
After an extended winter, the spring of 1962 was hit hard by storms and hail. The early summer was cold, and flowering was late and lingering. Fine weather in September continued well into the harvest, which did not begin until October 4th.
Tasted several times, “dry dry” and “very dry” appear and reappear from 1971. A lovely firm champagne, highly elegant and refined. Then not tasted for ten years, but still clear, with a lovely effervescence. To generalise: characteristic “dryness” of chardonnay on the nose. On the palate, very dry, medium-bodied, elegant, excellent flavour and good length – what the French call persistence.
Michael Broadbent, “Le Livre des Millesimes, Les Grands Vins de France”
Recommended glass shape
Average Bottle Price
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