I am happy to come back to you after my words posted in September just before picking. The weather was beautiful right until the end, when the rain and cold caught up with us. Again we could not follow our usual harvest pattern and had to be extremely reactive to adapt to the conditions. Thankfully our teams were ready to rise to this challenge. We prioritized harvesting the ripe and healthy sectors before they could deteriorate, sacrificing some other vineyards to do so. We managed to pick all the Chardonnay before the rain, and to salvage what Pinot Noir we could.
My main satisfaction is that our bet to push the Chardonnays to a new level of ripeness was rewarded. We felt we had to take this calculated risk as we were emboldened by the lessons learned both from our successes during warm vintages like 2003 or 2009; and from vintages with less promise such as 2007 when we realized we required nothing short of exceptional maturity. In the end, 2017 contributed a lot of information to our ongoing debate about grapes potential: we concluded that exploring new territories of ripeness was necessary to reach our aesthetic ideal. The first tasting of the base wines seems to confirm our choices: they achieve richness while preserving freshness, and display a great tactile quality.
The situation was sadly not as positive with the Pinot Noirs, in the sense that we had to stick to a strict selection of both vineyards and grapes in the face of a complicated sanitary situation. Indeed we had to play cat and mouse with the spreading rot. This relentless focus on selection continued with the musts and will have to continue with the wines if we are to bring as much diversity and qualitative potential as possible to the stage of the assemblage.
Dom Pérignon’s raison d’être is to be a witness to the vintage–we will keep fighting until the end in order for it to be so in 2017.