Bottles of fine wine can age gracefully and improve with time, developing what the experts call tertiary aromas, usually at the expense of fruit. Assuming proper storage conditions, it matters little whether the cellars where this happens are located in Paris, New York or Tokyo: the outcome will be the same. Not (always) so much with Champagne, however.
Indeed the specificity of Champagne, since its origins, is that it undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle. This is what creates the fizz that once had Dom Pierre Pérignon enthusiastically exclaim “Come, I am drinking stars!” when he first tasted the sparkling wine that is now celebrated all over the world. The yeast performing this secondary fermentation turns into lees that remain in the bottle until it is disgorged. Then and only then is it fit to be tasted by Champagne lovers, and to be stored like any other bottle of fine wine for future enjoyment. However what happens when a bottle is not disgorged? The lees participate in a mysterious evolution of the wine in the bottle, singular to each cuvée and carefully monitored by the Chef de Cave.
In the case of Dom Pérignon, it is a slow yet active maturation, keeping each vintage alive and bafflingly— insolently—youthful. The wine continues to evolve and be magnified. A confounding process: wouldn’t we all like to mature yet remain young? This is the paradox of Dom Pérignon and it makes all the difference in the world.
Each vintage of Dom Pérignon is disgorged and (re)released only when I consider it has reached a new Plénitude, a privileged period of time when Dom Pérignon attains its radiance. Its development comes in successive plateaux which define as many windows of expression I decided to call Plénitudes: the wine then tells us a story that is new and exciting enough to be worth sharing.
After around nine years, Dom Pérignon reaches its first Plénitude and is called Dom Pérignon Vintage. The first Plénitude shows promise, completeness and harmony. Everything is in place. Our new release is Dom Pérignon Vintage 2006.
Some years later, the wine reaches its second Plénitude: this is Dom Pérignon P2. Stored deep into our cellar, the slow yeast maturation taking place in the bottle is inimitable and irreproducible. Dom Pérignon in its second Plénitude is more intense, precise and vibrant, energized by the transformation. A true metamorphosis: its universe has expanded. Dom Pérignon P2 1998 is being currently released.
Finally, the third Plénitude, Dom Pérignon P3, is reached after a longer period of over twenty five years. At this venerable age, all the components are completely integrated and the wine has become more streamlined and complex than ever. The third Plénitude reveals the heritage of Dom Pérignon, a living memory passed down through the generations of Chefs de Cave.
Many Dom Pérignon lovers like to compare the trajectories of a bottle of Dom Pérignon Vintage, stored at their place, side by side with a bottle of Dom Pérignon P2 or P3 longer stored on its lees in our cellars in Epernay. The three Plénitudes side by side is the ultimate horizontal tasting of one and only vintage. Each wine—each Plénitude—will reveal a different facet of Dom Pérignon: P2 and P3, thanks to the extra time spent maturating on their lees under our careful attention, will grant you an experience ever closer to the Spirit of Dom Pérignon.