Vincent Chaperon officially took over as Dom Pérignon Chef de Cave at the beginning of this year and was in London last week for one of his first assignments as leader of this iconic brand: launching new Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006. Chaperon joined the house as head of red winemaking for Dom Pérignon Rosé in 2005, and has been closely observing Rosé 2006 several times a year since it was made, tasting it almost every month in the last few years. His conclusion? Rosé 2006 is one of the best ever vintages.
Faithful to his predecessor, Chaperon talked in detail about the vision and values that guide this notorious house, which, as always for Dom Pérignon, took precedence over technical specifics. In short, the goal with each Dom Pérignon vintage is to embody harmony of characteristics , thus creating an emotion that lasts in the memory of the consumer.
To achieve harmony, which “stands in tension with the experience of the year”, Chaperon must ‘organise diversity’ – of vineyard plots, of grape varieties, of base wines, of picking time, and of all the myriad other taste influencing factors. In this way, and in this way only, can each Dom Pérignon vintage released truly “testify what that year was.”
The first vintage of Dom Pérignon Rosé was 1959 and although blanc is still made more frequently – in every 10 years, approximately 7 blanc vintages are declared vs 4/5 rosé vintages – it is becoming increasingly easier to make rosé. With the climate warming, there are more years in which the red grapes reach the necessary ripeness levels for the red wine component of Dom Pérignon Rosé, evidenced in the recent run of consecutive vintages – 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Chaperon explained that 2006 was “consistently warm throughout the vegetative period”, much like all the previous five vintages (excluding 2004), the exception being a cool and humid August. He described 2006 as his predecessor’s “worry vintage”, as they had to wait for the structure to come through extended lees ageing, accounting for its exceptional 10+ years ageing in the cellars.
|Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 | 18.5+/20
56% PN, 44% CH | Red Wine: 20% | Lees Ageing: 11 Years | Disgorged: January 2018 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 1 Year
The first impressions on the nose are the reductive notes and all those smoky gunflint characters from its winemaking process. Then you look deeper and you get some of the darker fruits like dark cherry, blackberry and spicy redcurrant; this is quite seductive. When you taste the champagne you get an abundance of juicy, darker fruits – black cherry and spice – with loads of lees character adding-mid palate roundness. This rosé has incredible freshness and finishes with a great salinity and long length.
Although the Dom Pérignon vision comes first and foremost, Chaperon happily untangled the winemaking process when pressed. In 1964, the house transitioned entirely to stainless steel and full malolactic fermentation, a decision made in belief that freshness mustn’t come from acidity alone and must rather be a part of other things like minerality and salinity, which are brought in during the selections made at blending.
For Chaperon, the red winemaking, which is such a crucial element of rosé champagne production, is about stretching the texture and structure that the red wine gives when blended with the blanc. The percentage varies considerably, from as low as 12 to as high as 28%; for the latest release, it sits at 20%.
The typical sources of Pinot Noir for the red wine are Aÿ, Bouzy and Verzenay, selected for the high level of maturity their grapes often attain. While the Pinot Noir grapes used in blanc Dom Pérignon champagne are picked at around 10 degrees of ripeness, anything below 11 degrees is of no interest for red wine production. Ideally, Chaperon looks for 11.5 degrees or higher – which can be a challenge considering the average ripeness of Pinot Noir for the last 10 years in Champagne is 9.5 degrees.
The juice is no longer cold soaked, as the house discovered issues with this process, such as oxidation. Instead, the winemaking team go straight to fermentation on the skins, which is tested twice a day to ensure the optimal precision of aromas is reached – the red wine for the rosé is about securing aromatics and minimising the extraction of tannins.
£580.00 per 3*75cl case under bond
£266.00 per bottle mix six price
Pricing correct as of Thursday 7th March 2019
To better contextualise Dom Pérignon Rosé 2006 and gain a firmer understanding of what to expect from its trajectory of development, we also tasted the three previous vintages of Dom Pérignon Rosé – all original disgorgements – to see how they are developing. Chaperon said of each:
2005 – “More extreme than 2006 and 2003. In 2005, we had great potential and high yields, and released a lot more rosé than normal.”
2004 – “A cooler year… with glorious fruitiness and vibrancy on both the nose and palate.”
2003 – “This was a challenging year, since the weather was extreme with intense heat and rain, and was of course the vintage Richard was most proud of making.”
|Dom Pérignon Rosé 2005 | 17.5+/20
70% PN, 30% CH | Red Wine: 27% | Lees Ageing: 10 Years | Disgorged: 2015 | Dosage: 5.5 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 4 Years
There is a density to the red berry fruit, hints of the smoky character on the nose and then those fruits come through strongly on the palate, where the lees ageing has added great density and texture. Lots of redcurrants and spicy raspberries with more orange peel than your normally see in DP. Lots of black cherry and some spice. Good balance in a year where DP made a much higher percentage of rosé than typical.
|Dom Pérignon Rosé 2004 | 19/20
70% PN, 30% CH | Red Wine: 24% | Lees Ageing: 5 Years | Disgorged: 2010 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 9 Years
Very delicate and clean, lots of red fruits like raspberry, redcurrant and spiciness. Has a dancing quality on the palate, which is to describe the lightness and delicacy. The lees character fills out the mid-palate and finishes with a great salinity and freshness. Has some spiciness, almost cinnamon, that makes it stand out. This is my favourite today, has a lightness, playfulness and depth with purity of fruit. Both DP 2004 blanc and rosé are worth re-checking if you are lucky enough to have these in your cellar. This tasting suggests this wine has many years ahead and I can’t wait to see the P2 version, though that is many years off.
|Dom Pérignon Rosé 2003 | 17.5/20
62% PN, 38% CH | Red Wine: 20% | Lees Ageing: 5 Years | Disgorged: 2009 | Dosage: 6 g/l | Post-Disgorgement Ageing: 10 Years
The initial character of this is quite wine-like, has lots of cherry and spice, redcurrant and rose. On the palate this has a big, almost meaty character. Depending on how you like your rosé champagne this is quite different to the previous vintages, if you let it go still it is more like a still wine than champagne. Not my favourite today, but interesting to see how it is developing. This bottle makes you think it is best drinking now for the next 5 years.