Few brands enjoy the status that Dom Perignon has — and has had, literally for centuries. I had the good fortune to meet the Champagne house’s Chef de Cave Richard Geoffrey, who flew in to San Francisco to give us a guided tour of his latest releases — cracking open a few thousand dollars worth of bubbly on a weekday afternoon to remind me why Dom has the reputation for which it’s renowned. It’s a hard life, but someone has to do it.
Prices are current and estimated — they vary wildly.
Dom Perignon New Release Tasting Report
2002 Dom Perignon Vintage Champagne / $150 / A / A huge nose on this one that fades into a floral and light body. There’s a touch of yeast on the nose, but inhale deep and you’ll get a whiff of the sea — brine and iodine, a little saltiness in the finish. Gorgeous. 52% Chardonnay, 48% Pinot Noir.
1996 Dom Perignon Vintage Champagne / $250-plus / A / Hard to find now, Geoffrey brought this to compare with the 1996 Oenotheque (more on that in a minute). Considered a tough vintage, Dom has done wonders with it, unveiling a fuller-bodied Champagne with more sweetness and less earthiness. Big on fruit, this is drinking wonderfully now. Bottled in 2003. 55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir.
1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque Champagne / $349 / B+ / The Oenotheque line is a curiosity: It’s the same wine as the 1996 Vintage Champagne, but it’s been sitting on the lees for 7 extra years, bottled in 2010 instead of 2003. Sitting on the yeast for that much extra time gives this wine a harder edge, and I think it’s not nearly as fresh as the Vintage ’96. Geoffrey calls this “re-release” wine “truer to Dom Perignon’s spirit”, with a woodsy, smoky note and some sharpness on the tongue. I prefer the Vintage version by a mile, but I may be in the minority on this one. (Geoffrey also says he has more 1996 in the caves and he plans a third release of this wine in maybe another 20 years. Bring your wallet.)
2000 Dom Perignon Rose Vintage Champagne / $349 / B+ / Don’t be surprised by the color: The pink Dom is the least sweet wine of the bunch, with the most effervescence of the group. 52% Pinot Noir and 48% Chardonnay, I found this wine to have the least amount of character in the group, though perfectly drinkable and, as with any Rose, much more fun to look at.