Dom Perignon | The Best Vintages of Champagne Locked Inside a Bottle

Dom Perignon | The Best Vintages of Champagne Locked Inside a Bottle

Perhaps no single label elicits a stronger emotional reaction from lovers of fine Champagne than that of the world-renowned prestige cuvee Dom Perignon. Since its very first release back in 1921, Dom Perignon has stood out as an elite wine and has remained the unwavering symbol of luxury, class and flawless quality in Champagne. A vintage champagne by nature, “Dom” is made exclusively in the strongest years and from only the best grapes harvested only in the same year. 

The Crown Jewel of Champagne

In the 17th century, a wine-loving Benedictine monk named Dom Pierre Perignon became the cellarer of the Abbey of Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers, a place in northern France which has since earned a reputation as being the birthplace of Champagne. Passionately dedicated to his work, he spent 47 years seeking to master the art of winemaking. According to legend it was Dom Perignon who introduced several of the ideas that are today at the core of the Champenoise method: blending grapes from different vineyards, pressing them separately and the producing white wine from red grapes. It wasn’t long before his signature cuvees sparkled on the tables of Louis XIV’s royal court. Because of the close relationship between Dom Perignon’s abbey and the festive, exuberant French king, the Champagnes of “Dom” are still closely associated with celebration, joy and happiness today. The priceless brand Dom Perignon, bearing the name of the Champagne region’s most legendary figure, was registered by Eugene Mercier of Mercier Champagne, and then sold to the Moet & Chandon Group. It was first applied to the prestige cuvee from vintage 1921, from which only 1,200 bottles were released in 1936. The 1921 vintage is remembered in Champagne as one of the best in history, a great start to what would be an illustrious career for this remarkable cuvee. Today Dom Perignon has been acquired by the LVMH group.

© Franck CHAREL / agence Jade

© Franck CHAREL / agence Jade

What Defines Dom Perignon

But what sets the cuvees of Dom Perignon apart from those of other prestigious Houses in the region? Other than just being named after the region’s most mythical character, there are several aspects of both viticulture and winemaking at Dom Perignon that defines the signature style and values of the House. First of all, despite being perhaps the most prestigious of Champagne cuvees, Dom Perignon is not (and cannot) officially be classified Grand Cru. Why? Although many of the grapes with which the wine is made come from Grand Cru vineyards, the final Dom Perignon blend always includes grapes from the original plot in Abbey of Saint Pierre d’Hautvillers. The latter is classified as Premier Cru. The blend is made of a core group of vineyards from 9 villages: Chouilly, Cramant, Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger for Chardonnay, and Aÿ, Bouzy, Mailly, Verzenay and Hautvillers for Pinot Noir. And while most grapes in Champagne are harvested quite early, at Dom Perignon they are left to ripen slowly to reach the complexity required desired by the cellar.

© Leif CARLSSON

© Leif CARLSSON

Dom Perignon produces exclusively vintage cuvees, each of which showcases the unique characteristics of a single growing season in Champagne. Richard Geoffrey – Cellar Master at the House since 1990 and responsible for 14 vintage cuvees – limits his blends to only those vintages that will age more than 20 years. As a general rule, he produces a maximum of 6 vintages per decade. After its elaboration, the wine spends 7 years aging in bottle before it is first released. But Dom Perignon also does three releases of each vintage – the first after around 9 years of aging, the second (labeled P2) after 12-15 years and the third (P3) after 25. The P on the label stands for Plenitude, a style that results from allowing the wine to age slowly in contact with lees. Geoffrey monitors closely this gradual maturation process of the wines, careful with choosing the exact right moment to disgorge and release the cuvee to the public. It is during these moments that the wines are believed to “sing higher and stronger.” The new millennium saw great success at Dom Perignon, with an unprecedented release of 5 vintages in a row between 2002 and 2006.

Of Whites and Roses

The typical blend of Dom Perignon always contains both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, though the exact proportion will depend on the characteristics of the vintage. In 1961, for example, the two leading varieties of the region were equally featured in a 50-50 blend. In 1959, the Champagne House started to produce a single-vintage rose, which serves as a tribute to the Pinot Noir varietal and is Pinot-Noir based. The Dom Perignon Rose is often more expensive and even more sought after than the standard cuvee from the same vintage.

Dom Perignon : Rose Vintage 2005

5The 2005 growing season in Champagne one was of many contrasts, yet overall very hot and dry. The month of August brought scorching hot temperatures, eased by rain and cooler weather in September. A very rigorous selection in the vineyard yielded a very limited volume of grapes with exceptional quality. Harvest began on September 14th.

On the nose the Dom Perignon Rose Vintage 2005 presents tropical notes of guava and curry leaf, along with citrus zest and ripe stone fruit. Secondary aromas of cocoa and roasted spices complement the initial fruit. On the palate the cuvee grows, asserting its structure, with flavors of licorice and blood orange.

Browse the Dom Perignon Rose Vintage 2005 
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