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Dom Pérignon in the Napa Valley

Recently, an intimate affair was hosted at a private residence in the Napa Valley to celebrate the wines of Dom Pérignon, while offering a rare insight of upcoming releases for 2010.  This is part of a subtle global effort to selectively feature some exclusive offerings—yet to be released—including the Dom Pérignon 2002 vintage (set to release this fall), Dom Pérignon Œnothèque from the 1996 and 1969 vintages and, not lastly, the launch of Dom Pérignon Rosé Œnothèque.  Guests included Paul Roberts, Master Sommelier and Director at Bond Estates, Matt Wilson and Gregory Castells, principals of Soutirage, a rare and fine wine advisory company.

Richard Geoffroy, Chef de Cave at Dom Pérignon, guided guests through an intimate exploration of one of Champagne’s most venerated houses.  Also representing the house with distinctive insights were Nicole Ruvo, Brand Ambassador, and Trent Fraser, Brand Director, USA.  In addition to the anticipated selection, guests also enjoyed a magnum of the Dom Pérignon ‘88, and a duel, of sorts, between Dom Pérignon Œnothèque ’96 and the Dom Pérignon ’96.  This exercise revealed the distinctive nature of Œnothèque—taking the same assemblage from the same vintage, with entirely disparate expressions of fruit, character and complexity.  The Œnothèque ’69, to be released later this year, garnered significant chatter.  But, the buzz of the show seemed to revolve around the very first Dom Pérignon Rosé Œnothèque.

 

Distilling Œnothèque: once the quintessential Dom Pérignon house-style has been achieved, after seven years—at which point the vintage is released—a selection of bottles is placed aside to commence a second period of aging.  After six additional years and only after the chef de cave deems it appropriate, the bottles are manually disgorged, liquored and re-corked.  This wine, while entirely different, might be compared to Bollinger R.D., with additional time sur lie.  The wine is then bottled with an idiosyncratically mysterious black-label, hence, the fabled “Black Dom.”  For the premier release of the Dom Pérignon Rosé Œnothèque, the house selected the already legendary 1990 vintage.  As is the tradition of Œnothèque, the blend is identical to that of the Dom Pérignon Rosé 1990, with an additional ten years on its lees, having been disgorged in 2007.

Richard Geoffroy asserted the Dom Pérignon ‘02 to be among the greatest wines that the house ever produced, and a worthy rival of the ’96.  Roberts, Wilson and Castells all agreed that it was clearly reminiscent of Grand Cru Chablis—Les Clos, to be exact.  Wilson was fascinated by the Chablis-like minerality and distinct limestone character and Castells exclaimed that it was clearly “Dauvissat Les Clos with bubbles, from the greatest vintage, with lemon pie and tons of minerality.”  Moreover, Wilson and Castells agreed that the wine of the night was undoubtedly Dom Pérignon ’96, explaining that the  Œnothèque, while impressive, couldn’t stand up to what was, as Wilson remarked, “a lovely glass of appropriately mature Champagne, brimming with cocoa, brioche and caramel.

As it happens, while discussed at great length, the Dom Pérignon Rosé Œnothèque was not tasted on this occasion.  Alas, the belle of the ball—the first ever Black Dom Rosé—managed to escape unseen.  But, surely by no coincidence, guests and followers alike will be talking about her a great deal until she finally makes her debut.

Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 4