From the chaste cellars of a Benedictine abbey to a celebrity-drenched dinner hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow, Dom Pérignon Champagne has been a symbol of success. When the young monk Pierre Pérignon assumed the role of cellar master at the Benedictine Abbey of Hautvilliers in 1668, his goal, he said, was to "make the best wine in the world." Through extensive experimentation, he developed the méthode champenoise, a series of techniques to produce a clear, effervescent wine. On tasting his creation, Pérignon reportedly exclaimed, "I'm drinking stars." His contemporaries must have agreed. Before long, Pérignon's Champagne was the toast of Louis XIV's Versailles and inextricably entwined with the escapades that went on there.
After the French Revolution, Dom Pérignon's legacy was kept hushed until the 20th century, when it re-emerged as a sensation. In 1936, Doris Duke purchased 100 bottles of the first vintage sold in the U.S.; 68 years later, a case of that vintage sold at auction for nearly $25,000. Grace Kelly requested that it be served at her wedding to Prince Rainier, Elizabeth Taylor celebrated her 1961 Oscar win over a bottle of it, and Aristotle Onassis was known to keep a chilled bottle at the ready at Maxim's restaurant in Paris. Marilyn Monroe, a devout fan of Dom Pérignon '53, sipped it throughout fittings for the dress she wore to John F. Kennedy's birthday celebration in 1962 and stocked a whole car full for a road trip with Danish paramour Hans Jorgen Lembourn. On the silver screen, its status turned larger than life: Dom Pérignon has been imbibed in movies like Scarface and Charlie's Angels, and its most enduring fan, James Bond, refers to it frequently and reverently. Which is all a monk could ever hope for.
1 Dom Pérignon was Marilyn Monroe's favorite Champagne 2 A statue of Dom Pierre Pérignon 3 A bottle of Dom Pérignon 1993 Oenothèque 4 The Benedictine Abbey of Hautvilliers, outside the town of Epernay, France. Pierre Pérignon became the cellar master there in 1668, at age 30, and held the post until his death in 1715 5 Sean Connery, as James Bond, reaches for a bottle of Dom Pérignon in the 1964 film Goldfinger 6 Drew Barrymore, with Cameron Diaz, holds up a bottle of Dom Pérignon en route to the premiere of Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle