6. DOM PÉRIGNON
Back in the Most Admired top six, in 2016 the focus at Dom Pérignon was on the pink cuvées with the latest and 25th vintage from 2005 previewed in April and a new P2 version of the 1996 Rosé – or Second Plenitude as chief winemaker Richard Geoffroy describes it – released in the autumn. Like Benoït Gouet, winemaker at sister brand Moët & Chandon, Geoffroy is increasingly putting the emphasis on the red wine, all Pinot Noir, used in blending his rosés.
The Pinot Noir comes from a selection of south-facing slopes in the crus of Hautvillers, Bouzy and Aÿ, with the latter Grand Cru most typically used because: “We need to reach a very high level of maturity and phenolic maturity [in the rosé]. We don’t need the same level for the white Dom Pérignon,” says Geoffroy’s right-hand man and pink specialist, Vincent Chaperon.
This starts in the vineyard with lower vigour vines designated for Pinot Noir red wine production and maceration techniques such as those in Burgundy employed in the vinification. “We’re looking to extract the personality of the Pinot Noir but not go too far,” says Chaperon. “We don’t want too much tannin or power, because it needs to be integrated in the Dom Pérignon blend.” Clearly the ratio of Pinot Noir to Chardonnay in pink DP has been increasing and Chaperon reveals it rose to 64% in the 2004 blend with 29% of that vinified as red wine.
With the latest 2005 release that has dropped back to 55% with 27% red wine, still a high figure compared to most other pink cuvées produced in Champagne. It was slightly lower in 2005 because the Pinot Noir in that harvest was more powerful, says Chaperon. In fact in 2005 the team took the risky decision to wait, in a harvest where botrytis was increasingly a worry, in an effort to get the perfect maturity for Dom Pérignon rosé at the expense of material for the Blanc volume.