Join me for the harvest in Hautvillers

The harvest is a crucial moment in the elaboration of Dom Pérignon, symbolizing a transfer of energy from the vineyards to our cellars. It is possibly my favorite time of the year, when all our efforts unravel. Few Dom Pérignon lovers ever have a chance to witness it, let alone participate. This is why I am offering you to experience an unforgettable day with me during the 2014 harvest. Among the activities: a guided tasting of Dom Pérignon P2 1998; a private lunch highlighting food and wine pairings with various vintages of Dom Pérignon; and a tour of the cellars—not to mention harvesting a few grapes in the vineyards of the Abbaye d’Hautvillers, the birthplace of Champagne!

Only 40 of you will get the chance to join me, either on the 10th or the 11th of September. All the details can be found here, although I have to warn you that a delivery address in France is required, and that we will be starting from Paris.

I am looking forward to meeting you during the harvest!

La vendange est un moment crucial dans l’élaboration de Dom Pérignon, symbolisant le transfert de l’énergie accumulée dans le vignoble vers la cave. Cette période, durant laquelle tous nos efforts portent leurs fruits, est probablement ma préférée de l’année. Peu d’amateurs de Dom Pérignon ont la chance d’en être les témoins, et encore moins d’y participer. C’est pourquoi je vous propose aujourd’hui de vivre une journée inoubliable en ma compagnie pendant la vendange 2014. Parmi les activités proposées : une dégustation commentée de Dom Pérignon P2 1998; un déjeuner privé sur le thème des accords mets et vins avec différents millésimes de Dom Pérignon; et une visite de nos caves—sans compter l’opportunité de récolter vous-mêmes quelques raisins dans les vignes de l’Abbaye d’Hautvillers, berceau de la Champagne !

La participation est limitée à seulement 40 personnes, soit le 10 soit le 11 septembre. Vous trouverez tous les détails ici.

Je vous attends à Hautvillers pour les vendanges !

Temperature of service

As a bottle of Dom Pérignon leaves our cellars, it starts a new life in the hands of Dom Pérignon lovers who are eager to prolong our own quest for perfection. I am, for example, often asked how a bottle of Dom Pérignon should be stored. Ideally the conditions should be as close as possible to our cellars: dark, humid and at a stable temperature (around 12 degrees celsius).



Assuming proper conservation, the service of the wine is paramount to its appreciation. I have already mentioned the style of wine glass [lien billet glasses] I generally consider best for Dom Pérignon wines, regardless of vintage. The temperature of service comes into play as well, influencing the sensory experience in ways that are rarely acknowledged to their full extent.

During our recent meeting, Gérard Liger-Belair mentioned that temperature affects multiple elements in champagne that can impact the perception during the tasting: for example as the temperature of service increases, the viscosity of the wine lowers, leading to bigger and more numerous bubbles.

To explore the effect of temperature in a more empirical way, I created a few years ago a special dinner with Philippe Mille, chef of two-starred Michelin restaurant Les Crayères in Reims, and his sommelier Philippe Jamesse. In order to show the differences between various temperatures of service, we imagined a scenario in which a bottle of Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 1996 would be poured at all the temperatures between 8 and 16 degrees celsius, accompanied by specific dishes designed to complement its evolving personality.


Starting at 8 degrees the wine appeared more mineral, with its signature iodine character. Reaching 12 degrees and opening up with time, the bouquet became more complex, with earthy, smoky notes of sous-bois and truffles. Above 13 degrees, a phenolic quality started to appear, allowing us to push the envelope by pairing Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 with a tajine of lamb! Finally at 16 degrees an intense profile of hazelnuts and praline was a perfect match for a tarte tatin.

This experience, that I was glad to share with our guests, deepened our knowledge and understanding of Dom Pérignon. Once again our desire to challenge preconceived notions was met with success!

The two faces of 2013

I already mentioned that 2013 was a year of contrast, and a good reminder that we should always consider a vintage as a whole. Indeed the vegetative cycle was off to a very slow start, but this was compensated by the very favorable months of August and September. The dynamics of the ripening of the grapes was therefore very good, and this impetus was sufficient to carry till the end of the harvest despite the rainfalls of mid-September.

The 2013 harvest was a story of two halves: on one side the vineyards ripening early (Côte des Blancs and southern slopes of the Montagne de Reims) were even more in advance due to the low yields created by the difficult flowering; and on the other side the late vineyards (on the eastern and northern slopes of the Montagne de Reims) were exceptionally harvested in October and required more patience as well as careful sorting.

The two faces of this harvest become immediately apparent upon tasting the wines: in the case of Pinot Noir, the ripeness and concentration of Hautvillers and Azy versus the freshness and noteworthy acidity of Bouzy, Verzenay and Mailly. In the end the Chardonnays from the Côte des Blancs really stand out, structured yet superbly balanced.

Following this encounter with the wines of 2013, my feeling is that their diversity and character form a perfect starting point for the upcoming assemblage.


Ask anybody what makes champagne so special and you’re likely to get the following answer: bubbles. Removing the wire, listening to the sound of the cork being gently expelled from the bottle and to the music of the mousse as the wine is being served, witnessing the fragility and ephemeral quality of these tiny jewels in the glass: such is the magic of champagne, the magic of Dom Pérignon.

Bubbles also fascinate scientists. Professor Gérard Liger-Belair, from his laboratory at the University of Reims, attempts to understand how they develop in the glass, studies what influences their size and feel, and determines the specific physical and chemical forces ruling over their short lives.

Gérard Liger-Belair is at the same time a pioneer and an international expert in the field of bubbles and effervescence. I recently met him in Hautvillers to exchange thoughts. I was particularly interested in hearing his views on the factors influencing the finesse of the mousse as well as its effect on the singular tactile dimension of Dom Pérignon.

He explained that the time a champagne spent in the bottle was crucial. Although the first few years seem to make a greater difference, the bubbles appear to keep getting smaller as the wine ages.

I asked if the time the wine spent maturing on its lees in the bottle made a special difference, as I had observed that it can affect the texture of Dom Pérignon Oenothèque. He answered that the prolonged contact with the lees and its influence on Dom Pérignon’s viscosity could help limit the size of the bubbles in the glass and enhance their persistence at the surface. This plays a role in the tactile and elegant character of Dom Pérignon.

I pointed out that Dom Pérignon Rosé always seems to have a more generous effervescence compared to the blanc. Gérard Liger-Belair agreed, although the reasons seem to be shrouded in mystery for the moment: among the factors are the matrix of the wine itself and the level of polyphenols.

He added that as the bubbles reach the surface of the wine in the glass, they literally erupt, projecting a tiny amount of champagne a few millimeters in the air at very high speed. Combined with the fact that the champagne droplets hold more aromas than the heart of the wine itself, this vaporizing effect enhances the olfactory perception of champagne. This gives a hint about the mesmerizing and tantalizing nose of Dom Pérignon Rosé.


lees : deposit formed by yeast from the fermentation in bottle.