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Jancis Robinson MW – 18/20
“The notoriously daring vintage of Dom Pérignon at 18 years old in recently disgorged form. Rich, broad nose, with notes of candied mandarin – not instantly recognizable as Dom P on the nose. Toasty palate entry and still quite rich on the palate, thanks to lower than usual acidity presumably. Again, there was no fear of phenolics when making this wine as the logic was that the phenolics would make up for the softness of the acidity. This is now a gentle wine with very much its own personality. Soft and smoky at the start and then saline and refreshing on the finish. It’s more like a bit of told-you-so evidence than necessarily, the one Dom P you would choose from the current range available. But, boy, does it persist!” Drink 2021 – 2027
Essi Avellan MW – 96-97/100
“Every Dom Pérignon vintage is built to eventually become a Plénitude 2 and Plénitude 3 and so is the 2003! It was such a challenging and unprecedentedly hot year. Yet there is nothing heavy in Dom Pérignon of the year. The nose is stunningly toasty with sweet, vanilla laden fruit, hay, juniper, cookie dough and cream. On the palate it is exuberant, round and textured with a notion of firming phenolics of a hot year on the back palate. The time on lees seems to have created some extra roundness and delicious sweetness to the fruit. Finely bubbling energetic palate finishing on a pure mineral freshness.”
The uniqueness of Dom Pérignon vintages lies in the way they evolve - not steadily in a linear way but through successive windows of expression. These privileged points in time are called “Plénitudes” - captured moments when the wine sings higher and stronger.
P2 is the Second Plénitude of Dom Pérignon Vintage, the result of 16 years of elaboration. The opposing and complementary elements of the assemblage resound for an increasingly sharp intensity. The energy of the wine is at its peak.
In 2014, Dom Perignon announced that it would be changing the name of its late-release Oenothèque series into a “P2” and “P3” offerings, referring to the second and third “plenitudes” of development in the evolution of a Champagne.
P2 offerings are fully matured, recently disgorged Champagnes that have been stored in the cellars where they were originally made.
“Dom Pérignon wines follow the rhythm of three plénitudes: the first after seven years maturing on their lees; the second between eleven and twenty years; and the third beyond twenty. In the darkness of our cellars, from one plénitude to the next, Dom Pérignon will grow and blossom, transmuting time into energy….The lineage of all the vintages in their third plénitude represents the living memory of Dom Pérignon, transmitting this heritage through generations of Chefs de Cave.” -Winemaker’s Notes
Dom Pérignon 2003 P2 – The Champagne and The Plénitudes
2003 is a year that will remain forever ingrained in the memory of Champagne, the year when everything changed. The combination of a severe frost in the spring – resulting in the loss of 70% of the potential Chardonnay grape harvest from the Côte des Blancs – and a scorching August heatwave that people still recall, imposed the earliest harvest in the history of Champagne since 1822. Ultimately, the contrasting weather conditions during the year resulted in remarkably luscious, highly concentrated grapes, recalling the legendary vintages of 1947, 1959, and 1976.
2003 perfectly illustrates Dom Pérignon’s conception of taking risks. This is not recklessness, but quite to the contrary an approach inspired by intuition. A spark ignited when knowledge is applied to face of the reality of a situation. The spark that leads to unexplored technical paths to reach a precisely articulated aesthetic ideal. This is exactly what Dom Pérignon did in 2003. For the first time, the juice was allowed to oxidize and darken in the press, thus lightening the overly imposing tannic structure. Then the Pinot Noir was increased to previously untried proportions in the assemblage in order to balance the Chardonnays, which had a character that was more Burgundy than Champagne.
“To work at Dom Pérignon one has to first do a master’s degree in philosophy,” says Richard, and his philosophy is clearly enunciated in triplicate… “more, more, more” … one must, he maintains, “continue to push the envelope” in order to produce a “fuller, richer and more substantial” wine, yet one which maintains the Champenois leitmotif of consistency of style whilst at the same time, almost paradoxically, underlining vintage character. In a sense this tension, between consistency and individuality, mirrors the structural tension of the liquid itself, where acidity and sugar, fruit and texture, have to be woven together with great dexterity and artistic nous.
We can see in P2 2003 he certainly pushed the envelope and Essi Avellan MW captured a similar thought in her description of P2 2003 “I loved how in his 28 years at Dom Perignon Richard Geoffroy always praised the surprise element, he insisted on Dom Perignon to keep on surprising us.”
A challenging vintage for Champagne in the face of an unprecedented heatwave during the summer months. The wines are characterised by the year's unusual circumstances. Large-scale frosts destroyed most of the projected yield and they were followed by hail and an extremely hot summer. Harvest was kick-started early on August 21st and yields remained minuscule at 8,100 kg/ha. Atypically round, ripe, sun-kissed wines that miss freshness and backbone. The total acidity level was notably low, at 5.8 g/l. Only the very best performers were able to avoid heaviness and overripe aromatics. This vintage was not largely declared but some famous names, Krug and Dom Pérignon at the fore, chose to experiment with it. Both produced excellent 2003s and Dom Pérignon's chef de cave at the time named the vintage as one of the creations he is most proud of. Some special cuvées surfaced, such as 2003 by Bollinger, as the house found the year did not stylistically fit into the La Grande Année range. Palmer & Co also took a curious route and made its 2003 only in magnum, releasing it much later than usual as cuvée Grands Terroirs. The ageing capacity of 2003 is much debated. Dom Pérignon's Richard Geoffroy had great confidence in his 2003 and he actually regretted releasing it too early. The jury is still out, but personally I am inclined to drink mine sooner rather than later, as the advancement post-disgorgement has in most cases been rather rapid and the wines miss the acidic backbone necessary for retaining freshness.