Dom Perignon, Champagne Brut

Dom Pérignon, Champagne Brut, 2008

  • icon-type Type

    Sparkling

  • icon-year Year

    2008

  • icon-style Style

    Dry

  • icon-country Country

    France

  • icon-alcohollevel Alcohol level

    12.5%

  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Pinot Noir 50%, Chardonnay 50%
  • Rating

    JS 98, RP 98

2008: A CHAMPAGNE MIRACLE

2008 was dominated by grey, overcast skies – an exception in a decade characterised by bold, generous sunshine. Just when the harvest was getting underway, the weather conditions were finally perfect: blue skies and prolonged north-northeasterly winds. The grapes were riper than anyone dared hope, and had truly outstanding balance. The vines were in perfect health.

To the bracing acidity, concision and aromatic purity expected of the 2008 vintage, Dom Pérignon adds depth, density and complexity.

The light is warmer and less harsh. The opening bouquet is complex and luminous, a mingling of white flowers, citrus and stone fruit. The overall effect is enhanced by the freshness of aniseed and crushed mint. The final aromas offered by the wine are starting to show spicy, woody and roasted notes. After a long period of reluctance, the wine is finally opening up. There is complete balance between the nose and the palate. Its slender, minimalist, pure, toned, athletic character is now also expressed with warmth. The fruit is pronounced and clear. The vintage's characteristic acidity is remarkably well integrated. Its persistence is mainly aromatic, grey, smoky and highly promising.

About Dom Pérignon

Dom Pérignon is produced by the Champagne house of Moët & Chandon, and it serves as that house's prestige Champagne. It is named after Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who was an important quality pioneer for Champagne wine but who, contrary to popular myths, did not discover the Champagne method for making sparkling wines.

Dom Pérignon (1638–1715) was a monk and cellar master at the Benedictine abbey in Hautvillers. He pioneered a number of winemaking techniques around 1670 - being the first to blend grapes in such a way as to improve the quality of wines, balance one element with another in order to make a better whole, and deal with a number of their imperfections; perfecting the art of producing clear white wines from black grapes by clever manipulation of the presses; enhancing the tendency of Champagne wines to retain their natural sugar in order to naturally induce secondary fermentation in the spring; being a master at deciding when to bottle these wines in order to capture the bubble. He also introduced corks (instead of wood), which were fastened to bottles with hemp string soaked in oil in order to keep the wines fresh and sparkling, and used thicker glass in order to strengthen the bottles (which were prone to explode at that time). The development of sparkling wines as the main style of production in Champagne occurred progressively in the 19th century, more than a century after Dom Pérignon's death.

The first vintage of Dom Pérignon was 1921 and was only released for sale in 1936, sailing to New York in the liner Normandie. The brand, not exploited, was given by Champagne Mercier to Moët in 1927 for a wedding between the two families.

In 1935, 300 bottles of a 1926-vintage precursor to Dom Pérignon were sold to Simon Bros. & Co., the company that imported Moët in the United Kingdom, who gave two bottles to each of their 150 best customers to commemorate their centenary. While these bottles were almost identical to the subsequent Dom Pérignon releases, they did not display the Dom Pérignon name, rather "Champagne specially shipped for Simon Brothers & Co's Centenary 1835-1935." The wine got immediate attention in the marketplace and 100 boxes of the 1921 vintage were shipped to the United States shortly thereafter, this time displaying the Dom Pérignon name.

Until the 1943 vintage, Dom Pérignon was produced from regular vintage Moët & Chandon Champagne that was transferred to the special 18th century-style bottles after extended cellaring. It was, thus, effectively an "oenothèque" release of Moët & Chandon Vintage Champagne in a different bottle. From the 1947 vintage, Dom Pérignon has been produced separately from the start. Dom Pérignon is always a vintage champagne, meaning that it is not made in weak years, and all grapes used to make the wine were harvested in the same year.

From 1921 to 2009, Dom Pérignon champagne has been produced in 42 vintages. More than two vintage years in a row used to be a rare phenomenon, which until 2004 had only occurred three times: in 1969, 1970, and 1971; in 1998, 1999, and 2000; in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 marked the first time when five vintages had been produced in a row.

Since 1959 a rosé version of Dom Pérignon is also produced. 26 Dom Pérignon Rosé vintages have been produced until 2006.

Dom Pérignon is always an assemblage of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes, although the final composition changes every vintage: at times a blend in perfectly equal proportions (e.g. 1990 Rosé), at times up to 60% Chardonnay (1982) or 60% Pinot Noir (1969), and only once going over 60% (with 65% Chardonnay in 1970).

The number of bottles produced in each vintage is not precisely defined, although it is at least 5 million bottles.

Grape variety
Chardonnay

Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used in the production of white wine. The variety originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France, but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a ‘rite of passage’ and an easy entry into the international wine market.

The Chardonnay grape itself is neutral, with many of the flavours commonly associated with the wine being derived from such influences as terroir and oak. It is vinified in many different styles, from the lean, crisply mineral wines of Chablis, France, to New World wines with oak and tropical fruit flavours. In cool climates (such as Chablis and the Carneros AVA of California), Chardonnay wine tends to be medium to light body with noticeable acidity and flavours of green plum, apple, and pear. In warmer locations (such as the Adelaide Hills and Mornington Peninsula in Australia and Gisborne and Marlborough region of New Zealand), the flavours become more citrus, peach, and melon, while in very warm locations (such as the Central Coast AVA of California), more fig and tropical fruit notes such as banana and mango come out. Wines that have gone through malolactic fermentation tend to have softer acidity and fruit flavours with buttery mouthfeel and hazelnut notes.

Chardonnay is an important component of many sparkling wines around the world, including Champagne and Franciacorta in Italy.

Chardonnay's popularity peaked in the late 1980s, then gave way to a backlash among those wine connoisseurs who saw the grape as a leading negative component of the globalisation of wine. Nonetheless, it is one of the most widely planted grape varieties, with 210,000 hectares (520,000 acres) worldwide, second only to Airén among white wine grapes and fifth among all wine grapes.

Chardonnay lends itself to almost any style of wine making from dry still wines, to sparkling wines to sweet late harvest and even botrytized wines (though its susceptibility to other less favourable rot makes these wines rarer). The two winemaking decisions that most widely affect the end result of a Chardonnay wine is whether or not to use malolactic fermentation and the degree of oak influence used for the wine. With malolactic fermentation (or MLF), the harder malic acid gets converted into the softer lactic acid, and diacetyl which creates the "buttery-ness" that is associated with some styles of Chardonnay. The wines that do not go through MLF will have more green (unripe) apple like flavours. Oak can be introduced during fermentation or after in the form of the barrel aging. Depending on the amount of charring that the oak was treated with, this can introduce a "toastiness" and flavours that many wine drinkers mistake as a characteristic of the grape itself. These flavours can include caramel, cream, smoke, spice, coconut, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla.

Other winemaking decisions that can have a significant effect include the temperature of fermentation and what time, if any, that the wine allowed to spend aging on the lees. Burgundian winemaking tends to favour extended contact on the lees and even "stirring up" the lees within the wine while it is aging in the barrel in a process known as bâttonage. Colder fermentation temperatures produces more "tropical" fruit flavours like mango and pineapple. The "Old World" style of winemaking favours the use of wild, or ambient yeast, though some will also use specially cultivated yeast that can impart aromatic qualities to the wine. A particular style of yeast used in Champagne is the Prise de Mousse that is cultivated for use worldwide in sparkling Chardonnay wines. A potential drawback of using wild yeast is that the fermentation process can go very slow with the results of the yeasts being very unpredictable and producing potentially a very different wine each year. One Burgundian winemaker that favours the use of only wild yeast is Domaine des Comtes Lafon which had the fermentation of its 1963 Chardonnay batch take 5 years to complete when the fermentation process normally only takes a matter of weeks.

The time of harvesting is a crucial decision because the grape quickly begins to lose acidity as it ripens. For sparkling wine production, the grapes will be harvested early and slightly unripe to maintain the acid levels. Sparkling Chardonnay based wines tend to exhibit more floral and steely flavours in their youth. As the wine ages, particularly if it spends significant time on lees, the wines will develop "toasty" notes. Chardonnay grapes usually have little trouble developing sugar content, even in cooler climates, which translates into high potential alcohol levels and limits the need for chaptalisation. On the flip side, low acid levels can be a concern which make the wine taste "flabby" and dull. Winemakers can counteract this by adding tartaric acid in a process known as "acidification". In cooler climates, the extract and acidity of Chardonnay is magnified which has the potential of producing very concentrated wines that can develop through bottle aging. Chardonnay can blend well with other grapes and still maintain some of its unique character. The grapes most often blended with Chardonnay include Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sémillon.

Due to the "malleability" of Chardonnay in winemaking and its ability to reflect its terroir, there is not one distinct universal "style" or set of constants that could be applied to Chardonnay made across the globe. According to Jancis Robinson, a sense of "smokiness" is one clue that could be picked up in a blind tasting of Chardonnay but there are many styles that do not have any "smoky" notes. Compared to other white wine grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Viognier-Chardonnay has a more subtle and muted nose with no overwhelming aromatics that jump out of the wine glass. The identifying styles of Chardonnay are regionally based. For example, pineapple notes are more commonly associated with Chardonnay from Napa Valley while Chablis will have more notes of green apples. While many examples of Chardonnay can benefit from a few years of bottle aging, especially if they have high acidity, most Chardonnays are meant to be consumed in their youth. A notable exception to this is the most premium examples of Chablis and white Burgundies.

Alternative Names: Morillon, Pinot Chardonnay, Feiner Weisser Burgunder

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot Noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for pine and black. The word pine alludes to the grape variety having tightly clustered, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Pinot Noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler climates, and the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Pinot Noir is now used to make red wines around the world, as well as Champagne, and such sparkling white wines as the Italian Franciacorta, and English sparkling wines. Regions that have gained a reputation for red pinot Noir wines include: the Willamette Valley of Oregon, the Carneros, Central Coast, Sonoma Coast and Russian River AVAs of California, the Elgin and Walker Bay wine regions of South Africa, Mornington Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Great Southern, Tasmania and Yarra Valley in Australia and the Central Otago, Martinborough and Marlborough wine regions of New Zealand. Pinot Noir is the most-planted varietal (38%) used in sparkling wine production in Champagne and other wine regions.

Pinot Noir is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine. The grape's tendency to produce tightly packed clusters makes it susceptible to several viticultural hazards involving rot that require diligent canopy management. The thin skins and low levels of phenolic compounds lends pinot to producing mostly lightly coloured, medium-bodied and low-tannin wines that can often go through phases of uneven and unpredictable aging. When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wine ages, pinot has the potential to develop more vegetal and "barnyard" aromas that can contribute to the complexity of the wine.

Alternative Names: Pinot Nero, Pinot Negro, Spätburgunder, Blauburgunder

About Champagne

Champagne is the name of the world's most famous sparkling wine, the appellation under which it is sold, and the French wine region it comes from. While it has been used to refer to sparkling wines from all over the world – a point of much controversy and legal wrangling in recent decades – Champagne is a legally controlled and restricted name. See Champagne wine labels.

Located at a northern latitude of 49°N, the Champagne region lies at the northern edge of the world's vineyard-growing areas, with lower average temperatures than any other French wine region. In this kind of cool climate, the growing season is rarely warm enough to ripen grapes to the levels required for standard winemaking. Even in temperate years, Champagne's grapes still bear the hallmark acidity of a marginal climate, and it was only the discovery of secondary fermentation that provided a wine style capable of harnessing – and even embracing – this tartness.

Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay are the primary grape varieties used to make Champagne – a recipe used for sparkling wines across the world. It is a little-known fact that four other varieties are also permitted for use in Champagne and are still employed today, albeit in tiny quantities. They are Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbane. All seven varieties are still used together in at least one producer's Champagne; the Laherte Freres Champagne 7 is the most salient example.

Depending on exactly how a Champagne is made, can take any one of various forms. The key Champagne styles differ in their colour, sweetness, base grape varieties, and whether they are the product of a single vintage or several (Non-Vintage). The whites may be either Blanc de Noirs (made from black-skinned grapes), Blanc de Blancs (made from green-skinned grapes) or just plain Blanc (made from any combination of the permitted varieties). Pink Champagne Rosé is made either by adding red wine to a white blend or sometimes by fermenting the juice in contact with the skins. These types all come with varying degrees of sweetness – not necessarily the result of residual sugar, but due to the addition of a dosage just before the wine is finally bottled.

Grand Cru Champagnes and Premier Cru Champagnes are those made from the region's very finest and highest-rated vineyards. However, branding is so important in Champagne that the Maison (producer) that brand names take priority over appellation titles and such honorifics as Grand Cru and Premier Cru.

The production process for Champagne is similar to that for other wines, but includes an additional (and vital) stage, during which a second fermentation is started in the bottle by the addition of yeast and sugars. It is this that generates the carbon dioxide bubbles responsible for the pop and sparkle that are the symbols of Champagne.

All Champagne must spend at least 12 months aging on its lees - the spent yeast cells from the second fermentation. An extended period on lees beyond this can have a marked effect on the yeasty characteristics of the final wine. Non-vintage Champagnes must mature in bottle for a minimum of 15 months in total before release (i.e. an extra 3 months after the yeast sediment is removed at disgorgement) though in practice 2 to 3 years is a more typical figure. Vintage wines must spend 36 months in bottle before being sent to market, though most are released after 4 to 10 years.

\Most Champagne is sold without a vintage statement, making it "Non-Vintage" or NV. The main reason for this is the variability in vintages which results from the marginal climate here; by blending vintages together, the effect of a bad year is lessened. In years of exceptional quality, however, many houses release a vintage Champagne (millesimé in French) made exclusively from grapes harvested in the stated year. These are typically designed for longer bottle ageing and are made to higher quality specifications.

Regular price $1,242.00

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