Dom Pérignon: Vintages and History


Today Dom Perignon is a global brand and it all begun when Dom Pierre Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who, in 1688, was appointed treasurer at the Abbey of Hautvillers, near Epérnay. One of his duties was the management of the cellars and wine making, creating sparkling wine was seen as a poor creation and that the wine was ruined. Some of the wines at this time hadn’t always completed first fermentation but needed to be bottled to preserve the wine before the winter set in. With spring and the rise in temperature came, the bottles laid in the cellar began to ferment again and the Co2 popped the corks or broke the bottles. This was seen as a fault, however after tasting some of these wines he discovered that it tasted well and had some potential. Dom Pierre Pérignon then began to improve vineyard techniques and grape pressing. By introducing stronger glass from England and sealing the bottles with a cork that was tied down, it meant that the wines created were clearer and had some fizz, thus creating the style of Champagne we drink today.

abbey-at-hautvilliers

The legacy he left behind following his death in 1715 has created one of the world’s most recognisable Champagne Houses. Dom Pierre Pérignon made champagne for 47 years up until his death. The first vintage that was produced was 1921, however this was not available to buy until 1936. Until the 1947 vintage, Dom Pérignon was effectively a second release (Œnothque) of Moët and Chandon Vintage Champagne in a different bottle, as the vintage Moët and Chandon was bottled at a later date in Dom Pérignon branded bottles.

So how many vintages have Dom Perignon created?

Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy makes the decision each year as to whether or not the vintage will be declared: “If the fruit we have harvested doesn’t satisfy the Dom Pérignon criteria, there will not be a vintage that year.”

Blanc – 41 Vintages
41 Vintages have been produced since the first declared vintage in 1921. Notably, during the second world war, no champagne was created.

1921, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1934, 1943, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Rosé – 24 vintages

24 vintages have been produced, the first in 1959.

1959, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1986 (the only rosé vintage where the white version was not produced), 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, and 2004.

Dom Pérignon 1990 Rosé Oenothque

Plenitudes?

Dom Pérignon Champagne has a series of stages during the wines ageing on the less in that there is a window of opportunity to create different expressions of the same vintage. Dom Pérignon has 3 stages (Plenitudes) of release for the champagne that will age well. Richard Geoffrey, Dom Pérignon Chef de Caves, suggests that Champagne “Dom Pérignon expresses its first plenitude after seven years in the cellar”. Dom Pérignon P2 (formely known as Œnothèque) reaches its next peak after 12 to 15 years on the lees and the third and final release, P3, after 30 to 40 years on the lees. This extended time on the lees adds complexity and with Dom Pérignon P2 brings forward the fruit personality.

dom-perignon-p2-1998

Plenitude 2 – Most of these are labelled Œnotheque – 19 vintages

1959, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998 (P2)
Following on from 1998 vintage, each Oenotheque vintage will now be called P2 (Plenitude 2)

Œnotheque Rosé – 3 Vintages

1990, 1993, 1995 (P2)

Plenitude 3 – P3 – 4 vintages

1970, 1971, 1982, 1983

Production?

It is estimated that around 4 million bottles of blanc and 800,000 bottles of Rosé are produced in a vintage year. However, like every Champagne house this number varies due to the vintage conditions and the size of the yield.

dp-1966

The grapes that are pressed to create Dom Pérignon are from eight different Grand Crus:  Aÿ, Bouzy, Verzenay, Mailly, Chouilly, Cramant, Avize, Le Mesnil and the legendary Hautvillers Premier Cru.

How have they scored?

From the information we have from more recent vintages, the following vintages that wine critics have scored the highest are: 1966, 1982, 1985, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2006.

Jancis Robinson MW on Dom Perignon 1966

“Definitely fully mature champagne. Amber colour with a rather low-key nose initially. But it opened out to something attractive and lightly sherrified that really speaks to the jamón ibérico we were served at this dinner at Taillevent organised by François Audouze – his 170th wine dinner. Very deep and rich yet dry. Real lift to this wine but it also has a deep, throat- warming finish. There’s a note of cheddar on the nose. Very clean and revitalising. Rich and dense.” 19/20

Jancis Robinson MW on Dom Pérignon 2002

“Extraordinarily firm, confident, intense nose. Definitely the savoury side of Dom. Nothing remotely sweet or fat – though it’s as intense as a Montrachet. Wonderful quality of mousse – surely slightly less bubbly than it has been? More like a Montrachet with a bit of carbon dioxide laced into it than a typical champagne. Broad and long with a hint of orange peel. Great persistence. This already delivers but has such backbone and great acidity and light grip (only noticeable at the very end of the tasting experience) that it surely has a long life ahead of it. Really reaches every hidden cell of the palate. A very assured performance. LVMH at its very best?” 20/20

Dom-Perignon-Vintage-2002

Antonio Galloni on Dom Pérignon 2002

The 2002 Dom Pérignon speaks to opulence and intensity. Rich, layered and voluptuous in the glass, the 2002 shows off its flamboyant personality with flair. Butter, cooked apple and tropically-leaning fruits mesh together effortlessly. Interestingly, with time in the glass the 2002 gains in freshness and energy without losing its essential opulence. The elevated ripeness of the year gives the 2002 Dom Pérignon distinctly Puligny-Montrachet leaning inflections. Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy adds that August that year was hot and very dry. Rain towards the end of the month and into early September freshened the vines and accelerated the final phase of ripening. This is yet another fabulous showing from the 2002, which continues to cement its reputation as a truly epic Dom Pérignon. 98/100

Antonio Galloni on Dom Périgon 1962 Oenotheque (magnum)

“Apricot jam, orange peel, smoke and sweet spices are some of the many notes that lift from the glass as the 1962 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque dazzles. At the time, Dom Pérignon was fermented in oak. There is a slightly burnished quality to the 1962 that is incredibly appealing today. This is another timeless beauty from Dom Pérignon, fully mature and at a glorious peak of expression. Well-stored bottles should continue to deliver thrilling drinking for a number of years. This is a great, great showing from Dom Pérignon. This bottle was disgorged in 2002.” 98/100

The Finest Bubble has a wide range of Dom Pérignon Champagne here.