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Dom Pérignon Released Two Exceptional New Champagne Vintages.
As fans of Dom know, the house has founded its reputation on vintage wines, as opposed to multi-vintage cuvées. In a disastrous year, there will be no wine. Successful blending, then, is a matter of choosing the very best micro-sites in a given year, out of hundreds of Grand Cru–level blocks Chaperon holds in his tool kit. The ultimate trifecta he strives for in every final blend is “emotion, complexity, and harmony.” That first might be akin to expressiveness, and the last another way of describing balance. And each vintage, says Chaperon, whatever the conditions, his object is “a new harmony.” Diversity from season to season is his challenge, and playground—a unique palette that multi-vintage blenders bound by consistency, a “house style,” lack.
Which brings us to Dom Pérignon’s vintage 2012 ($200 and will be released in September). It’s a wine, according to Chaperon, “full of contrasts and contradictions” brought on by an “aggressive winter” followed by full summer sun. And it’s true—the Champagne is marked by laser acidity but also generosity, pleasing textures, concentration, and maturity. It opens with beautiful salinity followed by a succession of white blossoms, fruit, herbal complexity, and minerality. The word that comes to mind is energy. “Harmony built on contrasts,” Chaperon calls it.
This year, Dom Pérignon has also released an older vintage, the 2003, under its Plénitude 2 (P2), based on the belief that in the arc of a wine’s life, there is more than one moment when it expresses peak character. In Chaperone’s view, “maturation on the lees is a time of constriction, for the wine to develop complexity.” At the same time, in his words, “the yeast transfers energy in mysterious ways.” Only when that complexity and energy come into balance (as it has for the 2012) will the house release a vintage. But there’s a moment years later when the wine can enter a second life (not all vintages do), when it speaks more loudly and expressively—when it’s longer, deeper, more intense, and has even more vitality and energy—this is “Plénitude 2” in the life of a Dom Pérignon vintage.
It might be more than a little counterintuitive to think of a wine—especially sparkling—picking up energy as it ages, but the 2003 P2 ($395 and available starting in July) is marvelously fresh and tense right now. (That last is a good thing.) Expected minerality and dried fruit give way to a lemongrass character. The palate is powerful, deep, and structured. It was a vintage, in fact, that almost didn’t happen. Early frost and a brutal late heatwave led to low yields and challenging fruit concentration. Dom Pérignon was one of the few houses to declare the vintage. And as Chaperon describes it, they had to change everything they did that year, to find balance in the face of serious tannins and overwrought phenolic elements. Their risk is our reward, in this singular, 18-year-old Champagne—proof that Dom truly knows how to create unique harmony from what the season gives.
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
Aromatically, the Champagne still shows freshness and youth, with some tangy lemon zest, chalk and then ripe apple, along with a touch of creamy coffee. In the mouth, it reveals more, with a clearly discernible breadth of flavours and a textural depth, suggesting the use of a diverse blend of first-rate wines, including fully ripe expressions. There’s juicy apple, even pineapple, and then a bit of gently bitter citrus peel and grapefruit pith, along with a touch of cappuccino, followed by a saltiness that extends the fresh finish in this pristine fizz. While it’s beautifully balanced, and delicious now, with its youthful fruit characters, and salty-fresh finish, it is clearly a Champagne that can evolve further, giving more nutty complexity and honeyed softness with further ageing off the lees.
2012 was deemed one of the best vintages the Champagne region has ever experienced. “The quality and the intensity are definitely there to make an outstanding vintage,” Dom Perignon chef de cave Richard Geoffroy told Decanter. The base wines show a lovely richness as well as the acidity needed to make outstanding and long-lived Champagnes. Yields are very low, in some places half of the allowed production.