Monday, June 20, 2022

LeDomduVin: The Usual Trio - Champagne, Burgundy & Bordeaux

The Usual Trio: 

Champagne, Burgundy & Bordeaux 

Over the weekend, I served these 3 bottles and was (somewhat) pleasantly surprised despite my original fear of the vintages, 2010 being an awful vintage in Champagne, 2017 being an overall "ok-to-good" vintage but not great in Burgundy, and the same for 2014 in Bordeaux, which was definitely a lesser vintage.  

You may wonder why I titled this post "The usual Trio"? ... well, just because, over my 31 year's career as a Sommelier / Wine Buyer, this is the most usual trio of wines that I usually serve to most tables (of at least 4 people... or let's say it is my target), it does not always work that way, yet, it does more often than none: Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux. 

Champagne, as starting the meal with some bubbles, more especially after a day at work, not only lightens the atmosphere and brightens the mood, but also refreshes the mind and spirit, and makes it a good excuse for any festive events or occasions to celebrate. And, if at least 2 people out of 4 at the table drink Champagne, might as well go for the bottle (works with any wine).   

Burgundy, because I'm a traitor to my region of origin, Bordeaux, who drinks much more Burgundy than Bordeaux at the end of the day, more specifically white burgundy. And, also because I'm living in Hong Kong, where the temperatures are quite warm, 10 months out of 12, and therefore it is easier for me to drink lighter Pinot Noir-based wines rather than Bordeaux, which are usually fuller or even heavier, and more tannic too.  

Bordeaux, because it is my native region and I love Bordeaux wines, which I have strongly promoted, bought, sold, tasted, served and drank over the last 31 years working in the wine industry. And, no matter what you can think, Bordeaux is quintessential to most restaurants and wine stores, a staple to wine culture, and the basic of wine education. In short, no matter what wine path you'll take, you'll always come back to Bordeaux wines, at some point or another.        

Dom Perignon Champagne 

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away... I was a big fan of Dom Perignon. 

Back then, Dom Perignon was only produced in the best vintages, which rarely occurred more than 4-5 times per decade. The Champagne was prestigious and luxurious, recognized and praised as such, and even better if you could get an "Oenothèque" (the late-disgorged prestige cuvée corresponding to a small quantity of Dom Perignon bottles put aside and aged for a longer period in the cellar, to reach their "Plenitude", usually about 12-15 years, compared to only 7 years for the regular Dom Perignon). 

Then, in the 80s, things changed and the climate started to change too, with more solar, warmer years than ever before, like 1982, 85 and 89, making it for ripper, fruiter and fatter, richer champagnes. Starting in the 1990s, more vintages started to be produced and more bottles too: 7 vintages in the 90s compared to 5 in the 80s, and 8 vintages in the 2000s, increasing from about 2 million bottles back then to a staggering 5 million bottles nowadays.  

And, that's how Dom Perignon became a commercial brand, downgrading from one of the Top and most exclusive Champagne luxury brands to a rather "mainstream" discotheque beverage, with glowing fluorescent "Luminous" labels, to revamp their image and attract both the millennials and the music industry, more specifically the RAP and Hip-Hop world (cognacs and champagnes being their two beverage of choice, often referred to in a lot of their songs), as well as to increase their sales and profit, by creating a new trend for younger generations (champagne usually being more associated with special occasions and older people). 

And, why not? At the end of the day, I'm not judging, just stating the facts. Yet, in my eyes, Dom Perignon has changed and not necessarily for the better, as, what it became is no longer what it used to be. And don't get me wrong, I'm a "progressist", so I'm not the type of person to say "it was better before!", no, on the contrary, I'm all about progress and evolution and finding solutions to make things better.    

Yet, in my opinion, to achieve its goal of revamping its image, reputation and product line, Dom Perignon gradually spreads itself too thin, by adding more labels, making it very confusing for its consumers. 

Let me explain. 

Around 2016, they stopped using the word "Oenothèque" to replace it with "Plenitude" (*), and, yet, to remain in the race of  the "Top champagnes", they created 2 new labels instead: 
  • "P2", replacing the old "Oenotheque" label for the champagnes reaching their plenitude after 12-15 years of cellaring, and,  
  • "P3", a brand new label for the champagnes reaching their plenitude after 30-40 years of cellaring 
(*) The concept came from Richard Geoffroy, former "Chef de Cave" at Dom Perignon, from 1990 to 2019, who said that DP reaches 3 peaks of "Plenitude" (stage of completeness or readiness): 
  • Dom Perignon (regular or first plenitude) after about 7 years of cellaring
  • Dom Perignon "P2" (Plenitude 2 or second plenitude) after about 12-15 years of cellaring
  • Dom Perignon "P3" (Plenitude 3 or third plenitude) after about 30-40 years of cellaring
The concept itself is great and makes a lot of sense as it provides the consumers with more choices of qualitative champagnes, at various price levels, within the Dom Perignon label. And, I can understand that brands have to evolve for the better and develop to adapt to the new trends and habits of their customers and satisfy the needs of the various generations by offering different products, but, what I'm trying to get at is that Dom Perignon went a bit too far and too commercial, in my opinion, from producing 

- 3 types of Champagnes, under the Dom Perignon Label 
  1. DP Brut, 
  2. DP Brut Rosé 
  3. DP "Oenothèque"

- 6 types of champagnes 
  1. DP Brut 
  2. DP Brut "Luminous" label
  3. DP Brut Rosé 
  4. DP Brut Rosé "Luminous" label
  5. DP "P2" 
  6. DP "P3"
Even 7. if you consider all the DP "Oenothèque" that still can be found on the market and in the reserve cellar of Dom Perignon... 

...hence the reason why I'm saying that they made it more confusing for consumers (IMO).  

However, I'm deviating from the main subject, yet, it was important for me to state the above, as I'm far from being the only one to think that way about Dom Perignon... 

...and I must say that I'm a bit disappointed as, back in 1997, I had the chance to visit the Abbaye de Hautvillers (where the monk "Dom Perignon" used to live, worked, and pioneered a few winemaking techniques and contributed to the development of sparkling wines by introducing, amongst other things, the closure with the cork and the way to fasten it to the bottle with hemp string, etc...), as well as staying one night at the "Château de Saran", the property of Moet & Chandon, where we had a great dinner with some old Dom Perignon champagnes, and also where Richard Geoffroy himself disgorged an old vintage for us (we were a group of Sommeliers from the UK). 

It was an amazing experience which truly remained one of my dearest memories of that visit to Moet & Chandon (and Dom Perignon) and this overall trip to Champagne. Yet, which now feels stained by what I can only consider and describe as a commercial and lucrative turn, which has somewhat tarnished the "Grand" image I had of Dom Perignon.  

Personally, and for all the reasons cited above, I now only buy Dom Perignon when requested by a customer or my boss, or if necessary for a specific event, and only the good vintages, even if there are more expensive, because, at the end of the day, there are so many other champagne producers and brands that are as good and often way much better for much less.   

But enough of my deliberation on the subject, let's go back to the tasting notes for Dom Perignon 2010: 

Dom Perignon Champagne Brut Vintage 2010

To be frank, as stated in the introduction of this post, I feared for the quality and taste of some of these bottles due to their underperforming vintages. 

Thus, I thought this particular champagne would be bad, as, overall, 2010 is a bad vintage for Champagne, more especially for champagnes with a high percentage of Pinot Noir (and Pinot Meunier) which suffered from the drought during summertime, then the heavy rain and unwanted rot prior and during the harvests... (...hence the reason for my "rant" above. Why making Dom Perignon even in bad vintages now? while it was made only in very good vintages before? Hence my disappointment!) 

In the glass, it showed a pale yellow colour, with fine, persistent bubbles. The nose boasted enticing aromas of both yellow and green apple, as well as lemon and slight exotic yellow fruits, mingling with hints of floral, vegetal and mineral notes, complemented by bready, toasted nuances. The palate is quite dense, ample and layered with a creamy texture, at first, yet medium-bodied and light in structure, lacking depth and intensity, despite a certain consistency and a fairly long finish, but definitely not showing the concentration nor the complexity of the great vintages. 

Despite showing a certain youth, it is fairly accessible and approachable already, and despite showing enough good acidity as the backbone, will it pass the test of time? Time will tell I guess...  To revisit with the next 6  months to a year, to see how it evolves... 

Thus, I will ask the question again, why make Dom Perignon in lesser vintage? 

Unless it is for internal financial, political and commercial reasons, which I'm sure it is, I don't really see the point, but that's just me (just saying...)... no wonder why the image of Dom Perignon has diminished compared to what it used to be 25 years ago.  

During the 2000s, Dom Perignon produced the following vintages: 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009, (and 2010), while everyone knows in the wine industry that 2000 and more especially 2002 and 2008 were the best vintages, and 2004 and 2009 were very decent, while 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2010 are regarded as being comparatively lacklustre, and therefore could have been avoided.  

In my opinion, that was not a very good strategic move, and somehow, in most Sommeliers' eyes, that's how you kill both your brand and your image.   

Let's move on to the next wine.  

Perrot-Minot Chapelle-Chambertin Grand Cru 2017

As stated above, for most Burgundy wines, the 2017 vintage was, overall, "ok-to-good", "very good" for some, but, not a "great" vintage. Mostly for the reds, which somewhat lacked concentration compared to previous vintages. That said, still, a wealth of good-quality wines were made. More especially by the producers who approached this vintage with a conscientious mind, a prepared attitude and careful attention to detail. 

Perrot-Minot was definitely one of those. Yet, easy for me to say that, as I love Perrot-Minot! Good years and bad years, I have yet to taste a bad wine from Perrot-Minot. 

Christophe Perrot-Minot took over his father back in 1993, then acquired Domaine Pernin Rossin in 2000, thus expanding the Domaine which now comprises 13 hectares, extending from Nuits-St-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin. 

Run by Christophe Perrot-Minot and his wife, Marit Lindal Perrot-Minot, they produce a wide array of wines from various appellations at all levels: village, Premiers Crus and Grands Crus. The bottles labelled "Domaine Perrot-Minot" are all crafted at the Domaine, while the other ones, simply labelled as "Perrot-Minot", come from a careful selection of plots they oversee, harvest, and/or buy grapes from, but do not own. Which is the case for this particular bottle of Chapelle Chambertin Grand Cru 2017.  

Despite meticulous and attentive winemaking or organic-oriented vineyard management methods, the wines benefit from the quality of the various terroirs (soils, subsoils, sun exposure, micro-climates, etc...), as well as low yield and a good amount of old vines between 40-55 years of age, the oldest being more than 75 years old, labelled as "Cuvée Ultra".     

The wines are usually aged for 12 to 14 months in Tronçais and Allier oak, from Tonnellerie Rémond: 
  • around 25% new oak for village-level wines, 
  • 40% for Premiers Crus 
  • 50% for Grands Crus 
The excellent balance, healthiness, harmony and complexity of these wines come from the combination of... 

light oak ageing treatment comes to complete the quality achieved in the vineyard, the careful sorting at the vineyard and at the cellar Wines are bottled without fining or filtration. in progress......


Mouton Rothschild 2014

Full description coming soon at 

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