Last week two of us from BI were invited to a fascinating tasting with Richard Geoffroy, Chef de Cave for Dom Pérignon since 1990. The subjects in question were four remarkable new P2 (‘Plenitude’) releases from Dom Perignon. As most of you will know, Richard is a passionate visionary and a Champagne powerhouse perhaps unrivalled in his skill in creating new Champagnes which reflect both the House and each vintage. Tasting four vintage Champagnes of the 1990s, side-by-side, from the DP Plenitude range – P2 – was an absolute treat.
We were lucky enough to be tasting in advance of the release of these new P2 vintages, all of which were pretty extraordinary now but will undoubtedly make for long-distance enjoyment. My notes on each wine will demonstrate how different they were from each other, not to mention how much I enjoyed them. But first: what is the difference between normal vintage Dom Perignon and P2?
P2 is essentially great DP, completely ready to drink. The Plenitude range offers a little more of everything: minerality, toast and smoke, extended yeast aging and a touch more sweetness. Basically all the good stuff. Richard bottles P2 the moment he realises that the vintage is standing up and shouting – essentially saying ‘now is the time to drink me’. The plenitude range gives Dom Perignon a platform to re-release with total confidence that the vintage is in complete harmony, nothing is segmented, there are no fragments that disappoint, just pure approachability, charm and balance. Or in the rather flowery, but undeniable words of Richard, ‘a utopia of texture, substance and viscosity.’
Tasting them together was an absolutely fascinating exercise. Richard describes tastes in colour, describing the 1998 as possessing characters from the white spectrum (blossom, chalk, white peach, salt); 1996 is more orange (honey, mandarin, candied fruit, cinnamon); the 1995 had a black colour profile (black cherry, cassis, black pepper spices); and the 1993 a combination of all those things.
These are stunning Champagnes not to be missed. Here were my thoughts on each individual (and I mean that in every sense) Champagne.
Dom Pérignon 1998 P2
Laura Godwin, BI – ‘A very expressive nose, chocker block full of white flowers, peach stone and smoke. There is an underlying citrus character and a piercing acidity. The finish is alive with lemon pith, blossom and roasted nuts. I could drink this all day.’
Dom Pérignon 1996 P2
Laura Godwin, BI – ‘A remarkable aroma. Orange blossom, hazelnut and buttery toast all vie for centre stage. This is a really luxurious ad opulent P2 with brioche, citrus and wood smoke and an enormous weight of fruit. There is an incredible concentration on the finish. Absolutely captivating.’
Dom Pérignon 1995 P2
Laura Godwin, BI – ‘On one hand there is lime peel, salty nuts, smoke and butter and on the other hand black cherry, black pepper, blueberry and sweet spices. The finish is salty, fresh and dangerously moreish. This is an absolute favourite of mine.’
Dom Pérignon 1993 P2
Laura Godwin, BI – ‘At first the nose was muted, but with each swirl in the glass this evolved into a ripe fruit and spice masterpiece. This offers all the vibrant citrus zip and deep, yeasty charm you could wish for, plus a roasted nut nuance on the finish. This is refined, sophisticated and quite concise, leaving a lovely essence of Dom Perignon on the finish.’