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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.
P3 offerings are fully matured, recently disgorged Champagnes that have been stored in the cellars where they were originally made.
The maturation of Dom Pérignon occurs not in a simple linear trajectory, but in successive leaps into new expression, each of which are called Plénitudes. In the long journey of elaboration, the wine goes through this metamorphosis, a transformation. Each Plénitude contributes to Dom Pérignon’s singularity. In the darkness of the cellars, from one plénitude to the next, Dom Pérignon will grow and blossom, transmuting time into energy.
There are three plenitudes in the life of a given vintage: the first window or plenitude is around 6-8 after the vintage. This is when Dom Pérignon Vintage is released.
The second plenitude, or P2, arrives between 12-15 years after vintage, and is about when the energy reaches its climax; showing intensity and vibrancy in high-definition.
The third plenitude, P3, comes after around 30 years, when the Champagne has spent more than 20 years on its lees. This is a stage in which maximum complexity is sought, very concentrated, with the most wisdom but with less energy.
“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.
Up to this point 1996 has been considered a fantastic vintage which produced classic wines; the best since 1990. A long, dry summer produced grapes of record ripeness with record acidity. Some, including myself, question how the 1996s are aging. The wines are generally characterized by a distinctive rather lemony acidity and very good attack, but some wines now seem terribly austere, while others already seem dangerously short of fruit. None of the subsequent vintages are quite as distinctive as 1996, which in the more successful cases should almost certainly be drunk after the 1999s.