Sunday, November 23, 2014

WS: A Grand Slam for Dom Pérignon in 2010

A preview of four new Dom Pérignon cuvées with chef de cave Richard Geoffroy

Posted: Mar 9, 2010 11:43am ET

This year is a big one for Moët & Chandon's Cuvée Dom Pérignon. Richard Geoffroy, D.P.'s erudite chef de cave was in New York recently to unveil two new rosés: the 2000 vintage and, for the first time ever, a rosé from the Oenothèque program, vintage 1990.

Geoffroy also brought a surprise for me, a first look at the Cuvée Dom Pérignon Brut 2002 and the Oenothèque 1996, both of which will be released later this year. If my preview was any indication, it will be a grand slam for Moët & Chandon.

Available now is the Brut Rosé Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1990 ($700). From the first sniff, there's an incredible bouquet of mature Burgundy: fleeting, complex, and featuring ripe apricot, spice, berry and mineral. It was opulent and silky on the palate, very round and complete, with a long, spicy finish (95 points, non-blind).

Coincidentally, Geoffroy joined the D.P. team in 1990. Though it is widely considered a great vintage, he recalled that it was not easy in the vineyards, where there were some issues with oxidation. It has gained depth since its initial release, offering more length and dimension. Though it was disgorged in 2007, Geoffroy feels it needs some additional aging on the cork, due to D.P.'s reductive style.

Scheduled for a May release, the Brut Rosé Cuvée Dom Pérignon 2000 ($350) revealed a lovely nose of soft red fruits, cherry and berry with a hint of clementine. Firmer on the palate than the nose suggests, it displayed good structure and intensity with richness and serenity on the long finish (91, non-blind).

"We're really trying to push the envelope of rosé with the perfect balance of black and white grapes, which in itself is a contradiction," Geoffroy said. "We want it to be full from beginning to end, yet also pure and pristine."

"It's gutsier than you would expect from the vintage," he continued, noting that botrytis at harvest required a strict selection for the best-quality grapes.

Dom Pérignon draws on parcels from Aÿ and Bouzy for its still red wines, two grands crus villages noted for ripe, high-quality Pinot Noir. More Aÿ fruit has been used in recent vintages, due to its fully south-facing slopes that facilitate the ripening of the Pinot Noir.

The Brut Cuvée Dom Pérignon 2002 ($160) was a revelation. Coming from a ripe year, Geoffroy took advantage of the flavor maturity in the grapes and the powerful profile of the vintage. Complex aromas of ripe yellow fruits, citrus and ginger are complemented by mineral and toast. Very rich and creamy, dense even, this is a youngster and still expressing its primary peach flavor and a long hazelnut finish. It is a voluptuous wine with flesh covering its structure now (95, non-blind). It is scheduled for release in September 2010.

"It's structured and very complete from start to finish," Geoffroy said of the wine. "Then there's the classical dimension of toast and smoke and complexity. At first I thought it was like the 1982, but now it reminds me of 1990."

The Brut Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 ($350) will debut in July. Its complexity was immediately apparent on the bouquet, offering butterscotch, toast and mineral elements. An extremely well-balanced '96, without the high-acid profile of the vintage, the flavors evoked candied citrus, seashore and smoke, reminding me of a great Corton-Charlemagne (96, non-blind).

"It's not relying on acidity, just the pure reductive flavors that go on and on," Geoffroy explained. "I want the whole thing to be sleek enough to have a seamless, gliding feel."

He admitted the team could have waited longer to pick the grapes in '96, for better phenolic maturity, noting that there would have been a different balance in the wine. The concentration and ripeness occurred through dehydration of the fruit.

Nonetheless, the '96 is terrific and, along with the three other releases, will provide much pleasure for fans of D.P. in years to come.

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