Dom Pérignon launches 2002 P2

Dom Pérignon 2002 P2 and the original release

Bruno Paillard, who has long championed the use of disgorgement dates on his own champagnes, and those of the brands in the wider BCC group, has an anecdote he is fond of bringing up to emphasize the importance of post-disgorgement ageing. He feels the more venerable the wine, the longer it needs to recover from the shock of disgorgement. In much the same way as an older person is likely to take longer to recover from a serious operation than a younger one. It makes sense. Champagne is unlikely to perform at its best immediately, post l’Opération — as the cellar hands refer to the process of dégorgement.

Somewhat mischievously, Paillard likes to reference an annual consumer tasting in Paris of the big-name prestige cuvées, where he claims that historically two wines in particular were largely avoided by attendees. The two wines in question were Dom Pérignon Oenothéque, as it was then called and Bollinger RD. The implication being that both these ‘recently disgorged’ wines were still suffering from the shock of disgorgement and didn’t show at all well at that point in their evolution.

Dom Pérignon Chef de Cave Vincent Chaperon

Over the years I have not been a fan of the Dom Pérignon Oenothéque wines when they were first released, finding them generally rather harsh and unfriendly. And, when the opportunity occasionally came up to taste them against the original release of the same wine, always preferring that. At one such tasting given for MWs a few years back by Benoït Gouez, then working with Richard Geoffroy before he took over as Chef de cave at Moët, I was one of the very few people in the room voting that way on a show of hands.

It is to their credit that the team under Geoffroy, now led by Vincent Chaperon, recognised this problem with the second release of Dom Pérignon, and they have gradually extended the length of time the wine gets on the cork, post-disgorgement. With the 2002 Dom Pérignon second plenitude release, now simply called P2, tasted a few hours ago today, this post disgorgement rest has now been extended to two years.

While the wine making has generally evolved so that the first releases of DP in the ‘noughties’ have been noticeably more user friendly — softer and more generous — this is the first time I’ve really noticed the difference this extra time makes. When comparing the new 2002 P2 that has had some 15 years lees ageing, plus two years on the final cork, with the original 2002 release that has about a decade of post disgorgement ageing, the step-up intensity, vibrancy and energy shown by the P2 is clear. Chaperon’s assertion that this is a wine still on an upward curve with a long future ahead of it, seems totally reasonable too.

Richard Geoffroy retires after 28 years as Dom Pérignon winemaker

Yesterday morning, the peace and tranquillity of the quiet, pretty village of Hautvillers was broken as a cavalcade of 17 black Mercedes people-carriers from Paris swept into town. The occasion was a momentous one for this, the Champagne cru most closely associated with Dom Pérignon; a change of winemaker and the launch of a great vintage.

After 28 harvests in charge and the release, so far, of 14 white vintages and 11 rosés he has made, Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave Richard Geoffroy is Continue reading “Richard Geoffroy retires after 28 years as Dom Pérignon winemaker”

My WSET tasting looks at styles of Champagne

Earlier this week I ran a Champagne masterclass tasting at the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and promised the participants, many of them WSET diploma students, to publish some of the detailed information about the wines, plus up-to-date statistics on the grape varieties planted in different areas of the appellation.

The idea of the tasting was to explore some of the varied styles of non-vintage champagne, taking wines from eight Continue reading “My WSET tasting looks at styles of Champagne”

Whose champagne is Majestic enough?

Which champagne should you be opening to toast The Queen’s 91st birthday? It seems only certain, particular fizzes get past the palace gates. In order to supply HM The Queen, you have to be a Royal Warrant Holder and currently there are nine houses that have that privilege. But there may be different corks popping at Highgrove and Clarence House, as out of the nine, only one — Laurent-Perrier — is officially ‘by appointment to HRH The Prince of Wales’.

What they are drinking over at Kensington Palace is Continue reading “Whose champagne is Majestic enough?”

Stock up on vintage 2008 while deals last

Tesco’s deal offering 25% off on all its wines and champagnes – on purchases of six bottles or more – comes to an end this coming Monday (31 October) but is only running in tandem with one other discount on Taittinger Brut Réserve (down to £20.25 if you buy at least six bottles). As November nears the discounts are likely to sharpen on the main brands sold through all the grocers, but now may be the time to stock up on a few bottles of vintage Champagne.

There are2016-04-12 12.23.18 some very fine vintage champagnes around, with 2008 an impressive wine in the Continue reading “Stock up on vintage 2008 while deals last”

Sunshine & heat also hit crop in Champagne as picking starts

Grapes on the north side of rows haven't suffered
Grapes on the north side of rows haven’t suffered

Last month we reported that the harvest in Champagne was likely to be well down on the maximum yield set of 9,700 kilos per hectare, with some regions like the Côte des Bar, particularly badly hit. As picking begins in half a dozen crus today (12 September) – two villages one in the Aube and one in the Marne départements actually started picking black grapes on Saturday (10 September) — it seems that the average expected level of yield is no more than 7,000kgs/ha. And there are major differences between different areas of the appellation. In parts of the Aube/Haute-Marne, devastated by frosts, average yields are unlikely to be higher 4,000 kg/ha, whereas in some crus of the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs yields could reach as high as 10,000 kg/ha. Continue reading “Sunshine & heat also hit crop in Champagne as picking starts”

Prices remain low despite weakness of pound

At the time of writing the lowest price for champagne in UK supermarkets continues to be at around the £10 a bottle level with ‘exclusive labels’ at Lidl, Aldi and ASDA to the fore. Sainsbury’s and Tesco tend to favour a six bottle discount of 25% running at the same time as other offers and the former grocer has started just such a deal today (16 August) while the latter is expected to follow suit in the run-up to the Bank Holiday weekend.

It’s no surprise to hear that the vast majority of champagne in the UK take home trade is sold at a discount. In the total champagne category Continue reading “Prices remain low despite weakness of pound”