A sense of Plénitude
Bottles of fine wine can age gracefully and improve with time, developing what the experts call tertiary aromas, usually at the expense of fruit. Assuming proper storage conditions, it matters little whether the cellars where this happens are located in Paris, New York or Tokyo: the outcome will be the same. Not (always) so much with Champagne, however.
Indeed the specificity of Champagne, since its origins, is that it undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. This is what creates the fizz that once had Dom Pierre Pérignon enthusiastically exclaim “Come, I am drinking stars!” when he first tasted the sparkling wine that is now celebrated all over the world. The yeast performing this secondary fermentation turns into lees that remain in the bottle until it is disgorged. Then and only then is it fit to be tasted by Champagne lovers, and to be stored like any other bottle of fine wine for future enjoyment. However what happens when a bottle is not disgorged? The lees participate in a mysterious evolution of the wine in the bottle, singular to each cuvée and carefully monitored by the Chef de Cave.
In the case of Dom Pérignon, it is a slow yet active maturation, keeping each vintage alive and bafflingly— insolently—youthful. The wine continues to evolve and be magnified. A confounding process: wouldn’t we all like to mature yet remain young? This is the paradox of Dom Pérignon and it makes all the difference in the world.
Each vintage of Dom Pérignon is disgorged and (re)released only when I consider it has reached a new Plénitude, a privileged period of time when Dom Pérignon attains its radiance. Its development comes in successive plateaux which define as many windows of expression I decided to call Plénitudes: the wine then tells us a story that is new and exciting enough to be worth sharing.
After around nine years, Dom Pérignon reaches its first Plénitude and is called Dom Pérignon Vintage. The first Plénitude shows promise, completeness and harmony. Everything is in place. Our new release is Dom Pérignon Vintage 2006.
Some years later, the wine reaches its second Plénitude: this is Dom Pérignon P2. Stored deep into our cellar, the slow yeast maturation taking place in the bottle is inimitable and irreproducible. Dom Pérignon in its second Plénitude is more intense, precise and vibrant, energized by the transformation. A true metamorphosis: its universe has expanded. Dom Pérignon P2 1998 is being currently released.
Finally, the third Plénitude, Dom Pérignon P3, is reached after a longer period of over twenty five years. At this venerable age, all the components are completely integrated and the wine has become more streamlined and complex than ever. The third Plénitude reveals the heritage of Dom Pérignon, a living memory passed down through the generations of Chefs de Cave.
Many Dom Pérignon lovers like to compare the trajectories of a bottle of Dom Pérignon Vintage, stored at their place, side by side with a bottle of Dom Pérignon P2 or P3 longer stored on its lees in our cellars in Epernay. The three Plénitudes side by side is the ultimate horizontal tasting of one and only vintage. Each wine—each Plénitude—will reveal a different facet of Dom Pérignon: P2 and P3, thanks to the extra time spent maturating on their lees under our careful attention, will grant you an experience ever closer to the Spirit of Dom Pérignon. RG
Long-time readers of Richards blog will know that he often use the expression “pushing the envelope”. Indeed he strongly believe that creativity is not something that comes and goes, fleeting and unpredictable, but rather a process of our minds that can be actively tamed and taught.
The challenge is to ensure that creativity can always be sustained, that we will forever strive to progress, to go further and beyond what we already know.
He decided to reach out to Ferran Adrià, with whom he have joined forces in the past to foster creativity, be it at his elBulli former restaurant or supporting the premiere of his Notes on Creativity in New York last year. They both share the vision that knowledge gives rise to creativity, and creativity gives rise to innovation, and therefore decided to become part of Ferran Adrià’s “elBulli foundation” in Barcelona, where he applies his Sapiens methodology aimed at understanding a field, a discipline or its results in order to tackle matters related to transmission, education, innovation…
They are now embarking on a three-year shared journey to understand and define what makes Dom Pérignon unique, and to determine from where its singularity arises, with the ambition to elevate the Dom Pérignon experience.
Thus was born Dom Pérignon Decoding.
With Dom Pérignon 2005, the eagerly anticipated next vintage, set for release in May 2015, what do we know already? Well, it has received a promising early endorsement from VinousMedia’s Antonio Galloni giving it 95/100:
“The 2005 Dom Pérignon opens with the classic Dom Pérignon bouquet. Warm toasty notes meld into expressive fruit in a supple, silky Champagne endowed with stunning depth, nuance and complexity. Sweet floral notes add lift as the wine opens up in the glass. Overall, the 2005 is a relatively delicate, gracious DP, but what it lacks in depth it more than makes up with persistence and its open, totally inviting personality. Today it’s hard to see the 2005 making old bones, but it is a gorgeous wine to drink while the 2004 ages.
In 2005, the release is scheduled to last about six months, which means production is down around 50% over normal levels. All I can say is the 2005 is fabulous, especially in a vintage that required considerable sorting to eliminate rampant rot in the Pinots.”
95/100 Antonio Galloni, vinousmedia.com, May 2014
Furthermore, infamous Champagne columnist, Giles Fallowfield, tasted Dom Pérignon 2005 in January 2015 with head winemaker, Richard Geoffroy. Whilst not revealing anything on the quality of the Champagne, he did reveal that the wine has a relatively high 60% Chardonnay focus, with 40% Pinot Noir.
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 / MEMORABLE MOMENTS IN TIME
In 1936, the prestigious ocean liner Normandie left Le Havre port for New York. In its hold, it carried one hundred cases containing twelve bottles each of the 1921 vintage of Dom Pérignon. These were the first bottles of Dom Pérignon to arrive on American soil - just in time for Christmas and New Year’s Day – they were an immediate success.
In 1951, Marlene Dietrich served Dom Pérignon at an improvised Christmas dinner with two young friends, the writer Francine du Plessis and the poet Jonathan Williams. This dinner, with Dom Pérignon, became an annual affair.
In 1955, Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, had his character, the very distinguished 007 Commander of the Royal Navy and officer in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, order a prized bottle of Dom Pérignon vintage 1946.
In 1957, Christian Dior invited Stanley Karnow, journalist, to his hôtel particulier in upscale Passy, located near the Château de la Muette to conduct an interview for Time.The interview took place over a glass (or two) of Dom Pérignon vintage 1949 in the magenta upholstered armchairs and under a stilted Bernard Buffet portrait of the world’s best known fashion designer….Mr. Dior was also an avid gourmet cook who had his own recipes - Dom Pérignon played a starring role in such dishes as salmon in aspic with Dom Pérignon, partridge with Dom Pérignon, sautéed woodcock with Dom Pérignon, and Chicken Dom Pérignon which called for an entire bottle of the wine.
In 1959, Marilyn Monroe met a young Danish screenwriter, Hans Jørgen Lembourn, in New York. They soon took off on a romantic journey to the mountains with “a small stock of Dom Pérignon” – a stock of joy. “
In 1961, Dom Pérignon Vintage 1949 was served at the dinner given at the U.S. Embassy in Paris for Charles de Gaulle and John F. Kennedy during the American’s president’s official visit.
In 1962, Marlene Dietrich published her ABCs. In the book she says “If you manage to get a perfectly chilled Dom Pérignon in a beautiful glass on the terrace of a Parisian restaurant with a view of trees in mid-autumn sunshine, you’ll feel like the most divine person in the world, even if you are used to drinking Champagne.”
In 1971, at an exclusive dinner for international dignitaries in celebration the 2,500th anniversary of the founding of the Persian Empire by Cyrus the Great, Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 1959 was served.
In 1981, magnums of Dom Pérignon Vintage 1961 was chosen for the wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles.
In 2004, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony selected Dom Pérignon to serve at their wedding reception.
In 2004, with the sale of the Doris Duke collection at Christie’s in New York. A lot of three bottles of Dom Pérignon 1921 sold for US $24,675.
In 2006, Dom Pérignon was enjoyed at the wedding reception of Mathew Vaughn and Claudia Schiffer.
In 2006, bottles of Dom Pérignon were served at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
In 2008, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon chose Dom Pérignon to toast their wedding in the Bahamas.
In 2008, Dom Pérignon was Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s wine of choice for their wedding celebration.
In 2008, two sales held by Acker Merrall & Condit also left their mark on the history of Dom Pérignon, with three magnums of Dom Pérignon OEnothèque (1966, 1973 and 1976) selling for US $93,260 in Hong Kong, and a lot of two bottles of the legendary Dom Pérignon Rosé Vintage 1959 selling for US $84,700 in New York.
In 2008, Marc Newsom, the Australian designer changed the very conception of a champagne bucket when he designed for Dom Pérignon a high-tech sculpture that impresses by its size (70 centimeters when closed) in his favorite color, acidic green.
In 2009, Dom Pérignon was served in Versailles at a private dinner held in the hall of mirrors to commemorate the exhibition opening of King Louis IV, the Sun King, and the 300 anniversary of the birth of Luxury. A fitting wine for the recreation of the King’s table, as Père Pérignon’s wines from the Abby of Hautvillers was one of the King’s preferred wines during his life.
In 2010, Dom Pérignon releases Dom Pérignon Wedding.