Anne Krebiehl MW thinks that Dom Pérignon P2 2000 should be made available on prescription. As such we beg Anne to stand for Minister for Health. At an ‘unusual’ tasting with Dom Pérignon oenologist Vincent Chaperon, the P2 2000 was tasted alongside the vintage 2000 and the Rosé 2000 to see how they had changed over time. The difference between them is the difference between ‘ageing and maturation.’
Full tasting notes of Dom Pérignon P2 2000, vintage 2000 and Rosé 2000 but first Chaperon outlines the vision of Dom Pérignon, how he believes the Champagne is a work in progress and the difference that both crown cap and cork closures makes on Dom Pérignon.
Vincent Chaperon, oenologist at Dom Pérignon was in London to pre-launch the P2 – or ‘second plenitude’ of the 2000 vintage of Dom Pérignon.
The 2000 vintage itself, disgorged in 2007, was first released in 2008. The Dom Pérignon P2 2000 is the same wine, but aged on its lees until May 2016, being readied for release now.
To illustrate how the wine differs, Chaperon presented what he termed “an unusual tasting” – three Dom Pérignon wines from the same vintage, or as Chaperon put it “three facets of Dom Pérignon”: the 2000 vintage, the 2000 Rosé and the Dom Pérignon P2 2000.
In effect, it was a chance to compare the trajectory of the same wine, aged in two very different ways – disgorged and undisgorged, off lees and on lees for different terms. The only difference, Chaperon admitted, was that the bottles destined for P2 and later P3 were aged under natural cork, rather than the ‘normal’ vintage which was being aged on its lees under crown cap.
How Dom Pérignon’s ‘plenitudes’ are like landscape photography
The tasting was also an opportunity for Chaperon to reiterate the ethos of the LVMH’s most emblematic luxury Champagne.
Working with Richard Geoffroy who has been chef de cave at the house since 1990, Chaperon outlined the idea behind Dom Pérignon’s ‘plenitudes’.
“All the winemakers have kept part of each vintage for the next generation on the lees, from the very beginning. We winemakers then realised progressively that these vintages still on lees kept going through three stages and Richard Geoffroy decided to call these ‘plenitudes’. This is not a linear development but more of a window. We also use the term ‘metamorphosis’ as it is more human,” he explained.
Chaperon likened the waiting for the right stages, the plenitudes, in which the wines “show fully what they really are” to waiting for the perfect light in landscape photography.
“We wait for that perfect moment,” he said.
The first stage, P1, after 7-10 years on the lees, he said, was about “harmony, a core element of the aesthetic, where all the elements of the wine find integration.” This he likened to a pointillist painting where all the different elements of Champagne, each variety from each vineyard plot, each primary aroma from the vine, each secondary aroma from winemaking, forms a little dot that makes a harmonious, full picture.
P2, by contrast, is all about energy. “We observed that Dom Pérignon in contact with lees was not ageing. This was not a process of oxidation or degradation – because oxidation is a slow degradation – it is the opposite. The lees nourish the wine so it is an intensification.”
Here he explained about the different closures used during lees ageing and referred to research undertaken in collaboration with CIVC. The oxygen transmission rate of crown caps is steady and predictable, at least for a decade – Chaperon is less sure about the longer term. Wines destined to become P2 and P3 are thus put under cork closures right from the start: “The advantage of crown caps is consistency, but the problem is that after ten years we observe that natural cork preserves the freshness of the wine in a better way. We accept more variability [of natural cork] in order to have greater freshness for P2 and P3.”
Chaperon emphasised that Dom Pérignon was always “a work in progress” with constant adaptation, constant questioning and constant improvement.
The enquiry, however, is not only scientific but also philosophical: “Vision is the legacy of the house. As soon as you have a precise vision, as soon as you know exactly what you want to achieve, you precisely define the way. There are thousands of decisions and all of them have to be taken with that vision in mind.”
Chaperon put it in a nutshell: the difference between the vintage and P2 is “the difference between ageing and maturation.” The comparison of the wines is striking; both, of course, assembled of 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir:
So how were the three wines tasting alongside each other?
Dom Pérignon 2000 is creamy and rich, with notes of oatmeal and oyster shell, stone and earth, round and sprightly at the same time, still luminous with lemon freshness.
Dom Pérignon P2 2000 exudes incredible freshness, something vivid. It combines the green freshness of a moss-covered stone in a cold brook. This greenish freshness stands against a background of chalk and stone.
It fills not only the palate but the mind.
The only thing the two wines have in common is great elegance and a ripe Amalfi lemon rind acidity. Chaperon joked that they were like twins who grew up in very different ways. At this point the P2 certainly seems like a tonic.
The third wine of the trio – less in the spotlight but showing itself full of charm, was the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2000, boasting 20% of red Pinot Noir in its total assemblage of 55-60% of Pinot Noir, the rest Chardonnay: a nose of dried rose petal, freshly turned loam, a tart strawberry freshness and a streak of wilderness, think just ripe and very aromatic wild raspberry. Its perfume is mouth-filling, its body sinuous and pliable, almost emollient despite its incisive freshness. It certainly had what Chaperon referred to several times as something ‘tactile’.
So, in conclusion…
The three wines indeed showed three facets of the 2000 vintage, delivering very different aspects of one year.
If you were to dine and needed a subtle accompaniment, the 2000 vintage would be perfect.
If you wanted to woo a loved one, the sheer sensuous charm of the 2000 Rosé would disarm anyone.
If you needed consolation, inspiration or invigoration – mental, physical or emotional – the P2 2000 would do the trick. It should be made available on prescription.