Dom Perignon Second Plenitude
Dom Perignon has coined a new word for the second phase of maturity of its deluxe Champagne. It’s now the Second Plenitude. Chef de cave Richard Geoffroy recently unveiled the 1998 P2 in Sydney.
It’s the same wine as the original 1998 Dom Perignon with extra time both on lees and on cork. It is 10 years since the ’98 Dom was released. Previously, these mature re-releases were named Oenotheque. By the use of the word Plenitude, Geoffroy wants to convey the idea of a second blossoming, a second state of radiance, a second stage in the wine’s evolution.
“All great wines can age gracefully,” he said, unveiling the wine in Sydney recently. “The maturation on the yeast lees is a curious, mysterious thing. At the peak of its maturity, this wine has many layers of complexity.”
He pointed out that Dom Perignon (tastings) is not fanatical about ‘recent disgorgement’. “This is not a recently disgorged wine; it was disgorged in 2009.” The wine itself is very toasty/bready and complex, but still fresh and lively on the bouquet and palate. It’s tight, delicate, crisp and refreshing. The balance is impeccable, and the bouquet offers an array of aromas including vanilla, dried flowers, roast hazelnuts as well as lightly toasted bread.
The 1998 Dom Perignon P2 (tasting) is being released now at $550 retail price.
And if you think that’s a lot of money, the 1995 Dom Perignon P2 Rosé will be released later this year, and the rosé is always dearer than the ‘white’ Dom.
The idea behind Plenitude is that Dom has three distinct phases of maturity. The first phase is from vintage to about eight years; the second stage or second Plenitude takes about 15 years, and the third stage (P3) can see the wine aging for 20 to 30 years.
Geoffroy himself could be said to be in his Second Plenitude – at the least. He has been the Dom Perignon winemaker for 25 years, and is a regular visitor to Australia.
He was at pains to point out that Dom has always been about the vintage. Therefore, “Making Dom is not about repetition, it is a series of one-offs”. It’s about “expressing the vintage at the highest level within the character of Dom Perignon.” There has never been a Dom non-vintage, and there never will be.
“We are dedicated to vintage. We didn’t declare 1989, which caused some controversy.” Neither will they declare a 2011. But he believes more vintages should be declared in Champagne generally, partly because the seasons have warmed. “We are facing between six and eight ripe-fruit vintages out of 10, so it would be silly to declare only three out of 10.”
He said some in Champagne didn’t declare 2009, which was crazy as 2009 was a ripe, round, serious vintage in Champagne, as it was in Burgundy. “Even if the quantity is limited (as in 2005), you should declare any great vintage.”
I had a sneak preview of the 2005 Dom Perignon, which is a case in point, as its volume was well below a normal production. Geoffroy is always tight-lipped about how much Dom is produced, but he did say 2004 (the current release; $250 – tasting) will have been on sale for two years by the time the 2005 follows it, and the ’05 will only last for six months.
The ‘05, incidentally, is a delicious wine in a more up-front, accessible style with soft, very ripe, round flavour and lots of fruit “due to the super-ripe chardonnay, which makes up 60% of the blend” (Dom is normally about 50/50 chardonnay/pinot noir). It’s a beautiful wine, although I lean slightly towards the ’04, partly because it has an extra year’s age, but also because it is a slightly finer, more delicate wine. But that’s the vintages expressing themselves: vive la différence!