Despite the popularity of younger sparkling wines, champagne is still the nation’s number-one way to raise a toast, as reports from the Champagne Bureau UK show sales increasing year on year. It’s an obvious choice for an aperitif, delicious with seafood and chocolate, but it’s about more than just great taste. As a pioneer of fine champagne, Dom Pérignon credits a unique method of production for its complex and diverse vintages.
Since the release of the first prestige cuvée in 1936 (a 1921 vintage), the company has been committed to producing a vintage-only wine from grapes of a single year. With the variable climate in the Champagne region, it was understood that in order to reach the desired consistency, grapes would have to be blended from different fields before maturing for at least eight years in the cellars to express both the character of the vintage year and the essence of Dom Pérignon.
‘Each vintage is a new opportunity to expand the family of vintages,’ says the house’s new chef de cave Vincent Chaperon. With each one, a limited number of bottles are set aside for a longer term of maturation on lees (dead yeast cells left over from fermentation). ‘The stars must die in order to create planets and life on planets. Lees are the same’.
Its latest concept, masterminded by former chef de cave Richard Geoffroy in 2014 and now led by Chaperon, celebrates the idea of second life. After a slow and controlled transformation that takes place over 17 years, wine reaches a ‘second plenitude’, which is energetic, delicate and complex, woven with freshness and a light texture.
The newest release, P2 2002, is a blend of 52 per cent chardonnay and 48 per cent pinot noir – the contrasting climate from that year led to a richness in sugar that hadn’t been reached for the previous 20 years. The result is an intense, opulent and vibrant wine that flowers on the nose with mild spices and frangipani, dominated by balanced fruit flavours, culminating in a hint of liquorice.
Dom Pérignon’s constant evolution proves that, in an age where immediacy and instant luxury are the norm, good things still come to those who wait.