Take home bottles of Dom Pérignon after dinner at Vue de Monde's exclusive new dining suite.
Does Champagne taste better 55 floors up? We can't say for sure, but the experience of drinking Dom Pérignon in a bespoke dining room at Shannon Bennett's Vue de Monde is surely one to remember. As part of a new 11-course dégustation, diners enjoy some of the best views and food in Melbourne, and then, the showstopper: a parting gift in the form of a bottle of Dom, delivered via the world's first and only Champagne vending machine. That's right, Melbourne now has a machine loaded with bottles of high-end fizz.
It's all to celebrate Dom Pérignon's latest release of its 1998 vintage, the P2, which marks the second disgorgement of the vintage and a distinctly different taste to its previous expression. Until 2014, these later releases were referred to as "oenothèques" but the house has now adopted the word "plenitude", hence P2.
The Hiromi Tango-designed dining room.
"Plénitudes are the moments where the wine sings higher and stronger," Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon's chef de cave, explains. "P2 is a stage of radiance, serenity, lightness of being, a peak of intensity, energy, vibrancy and precision."
To experience that radiance and serenity for yourself you can fork out $550 for a bottle retail, or try it as part of what Vue de Monde calls "The Ultimate P2 Experience", a new tasting menu from chef Justin James. There are oysters, marron with butter and mushrooms, and a barramundi course but it's not all Champagne and seafood. Other pairings include kangaroo that's been lightly seared on charcoal and served with muntries and a reduced cabbage juice, which James considers one of the finest foils for the wine.
Guests choose between Champagne-only pairings or a mix of wine, sake and Dom Pérignon selected by Vue de Monde's head sommelier, Carlos Simoes.
The transformation of Vue de Monde's private dining room for The Experience by contemporary artist Hiromi Tango involved a year-long collaboration between the artist, Bennett and Geoffroy, which included many meals together and a tasting of the P2.
Striving to reflect the P2's qualities of lightness and energy, Tango's ceiling sculpture of small bauble-like parcels recalls grapevines, Champagne bubbles or even, according to the artist, DNA. "I thought about the imaginary chromosomes of Dom Pérignon and Vue de Monde intertwining," she says.
Wallaby leather that had covered the restaurant's tables was used by Tango in the sculpture, while the green and blue silks came from her family in Japan. The room also features large vases of native Australian flowers.
Views from the dining room.
And the vending machine in the Rialto's foyer - it's not quite a simple case of tap and go. To bring The Illuminator to life, and get a bottle of the house's current vintage you need the special Dom Pérignon-shaped token that's presented to guests after the Vue de Monde dégustation. And that, Champagne fans, costs $900 a pop.
The Ultimate P2 Experience, Vue de Monde, level 55, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St, Melbourne, Vic, vuedemonde.com.au