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Horizontale of Dom Pérignon 2002 to 2006
I have already introduced Alexandre Schmitt in a previous entry. During his visit to Hautvillers, we did not only talk—we also tasted. Declaring five vintages in a row, from 2002 to 2006, has been a unique occurrence in the history of Dom Pérignon. I welcomed Alexandre’s input on what made them so different yet distinctively Dom Pérignon.
Our discussion quickly moved to the elusive notion of freshness. As a concept it can seem obvious—in terms of aromas it is split among many categories. Citruses, aromatic herbs or even the sea can all be linked to freshness in different ways. This is also the case of fresh flowers, such as hawthorn or peony, which are readily apparent on the nose of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2006. Here the freshness is soft, tender, indirect, with the quality of the early daylight.
Bitterness was also considered. Rejected by the newborn because it is intuitively linked to poisonous plants, it takes time and dedication to appreciate the refined and sophisticated bitter notes, such as can be found in the long finish of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2003. On the nose and palate, red fruit notes, juicy and energetic, paradoxically appear in a white wine.
We finally left the universe of pure aromas to venture into the world of texture. A combination of tannins, fullness and mousse, texture is a key element of Dom Pérignon’s singularity. Dom Pérignon Vintage 2005 comes forth as seductive yet progressively takes on a form of monacal solemnity, a sobriety and restraint that sustain the surgical precision of the wine’s delivery. With time, Dom Pérignon 2004 fleshes out, its substance participating in the perfect continuum between the nose, the palate and the finish, offering a seamless experience. Flowers abound, white, heady, opulent. Dom Pérignon Vintage 2002 is solar, bold, ripe, almost tropical, immediately engaging yet possessing a seemingly endless reserve of energy. The tension gradually appears with the torrefied notes.
Five vintages of Dom Pérignon; five individual wines; five expressions of Dom Pérignon’s singularity.
by Richard Geoffroy
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".
AN ACT OF CREATION TO REFLECT THE VISION OF DOM PÉRIGNON
It begins with a vision: Dom Pérignon’s creative ambition strives towards harmony as a source of emotion.
All creative processes have their constraints. Dom Pérignon's constraint is the vintage. Dom Pérignon can only be produced from the harvest of a single year. Dom Pérignon is one and indivisible.
Its Vintages express themselves fully into three dimensions:
The year: the character of the seasons;
The Plénitudes: evolution by successive windows of expression on the way of the long maturation on lees;
The colour: white or rosé.
Can one single glass be created to fully express the champagne across years, Plénitudes and colors? Thus guarantee the best tasting experience: on the eye, on the nose and on the palate. Dom Pérignon chose to take on this challenge with the experience of Richard Geoffroy, passing on its intangible legacy to its successor, Vincent Chaperon, and the savoir-faire of Maximilian Riedel, CEO of Riedel, and 11th generation of the family.
THE CHAMPAGNE DEFINES THE SHAPE OF THE GLASS
The Riedel glass tradition dates back to 1673 in Bohemia, but Claus Riedel, 9th generation, was the first to create purely functional glasses directly inspired by the Bauhaus movement: form follows function. Since the end of the 1950s, the company Riedel has consistently created the best possible glasses to highlight the qualities of complex wines in the nose and mouth. Today, its founding principle is that the wine alone defines the final shape of the glass, and no preconceived design or trend should intervene in its elaboration.
A TRANSCENDENT FORM FOR A HARMONIOUS EXPERIENCE
The “Dom Pérignon” glass came to life in a creative process that unfolded over the course of a year. The new glass emerged through numerous tastings and ultimately took form following critiques and refinements.
Riedel designed the “Dom Pérignon” glass to be in symbiosis with every Vintages of the House, shedding a light on the singularity of Dom Pérignon. Unfailingly true to Dom Pérignon’s vision, the new glass sets the stage for harmony by enhancing:
- Weight: substantial, yet with a certain lightness and ease, powerful but not forceful
- Flow: a tension, a “yin & yang” that enables the wine to express itself without exaggerating any dimension of its complexity
- Texture: continuous, seamless, tactile
- Finish: fruit-driven, encompassing both minerality and salinity
“The Dom Pérignon glass is magic, a success in both functionality and design. It feels very good in your hand and makes you even more excited about the Dom Pérignon in the fine glass.” said Riedel. The new “Dom Pérignon” glass will be used for all Dom Pérignon tastings and experiences, as well at selected partners locations. It is also available for consumer purchase on Clos19 or Riedel website.
Dom Pérignon Glass by Riedel
As I mentioned earlier, the year 2004 was marked by ease and generosity. The vine growth progressed regularly and effortlessly, blessed by clement weather. A cool month of August made way for a warm September, the last few weeks of dry heat contributing to the personality of the vintage. The harvest started on 24 September with grapes in perfect sanitary condition, displaying an excellent balance between ripeness and freshness.
The serenity of the growing season is reflected in the symbiotic harmony of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2004. Our goal was merely to discern the natural potential of the vintage and prolong it through the assemblage. Upon tasting, Dom Pérignon Vintage 2004 immediately seduces with its inviting and caressing texture. The intensity then goes crescendo, radiantly expanding into a firmer, denser character. The finish is racy and singular, its graceful gravitas the signature of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2004.
I often compare vintages to sculptures: some, such as 2003, require to be expertly carved from the outside to refine and purify their structure; others develop outwards and need to be sculpted from the inside to sharpen their subtle dynamics. Such is the nature of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2004.
Richard Geoffroy, Creator and Chef de Cave of Dom Pérignon since 1990
A great example of how large yields do not necessarily mean poor quality in Champagne. As a reaction to the previous year's low yields, the vines produced one of the largest crops on record. The growing season proceeded without major difficulties but the bumper crop called for bud thinning. August brought about cooler weather and some rains, increasing the risk of rot. The massive crop, averaging 13,990 kg/ha, was picked from September 18th onwards. The quality was a pleasant surprise; vibrant wines with appropriate intensity, refined charm and refreshing lightness. This vintage impresses me more and more, and I feel tempted to give it the full five stars. It comes with a rare balance of freshness, lightness, yet fine aromatic intensity. Post-release, this vintage has proven to be slow to age, and elegant wines are likely to keep on ageing gracefully. Dom Pérignon and Louis Roederer Cristal both excelled.