London’s wine merchants were delighted on Thursday morning to get a preview of Dom Perignon 2004 – as one said, ‘Finally, something we can sell’ after the lacklustre Bordeaux en primeur campaign.
Indeed, Gareth Birchley of Bordeaux Index told Decanter.com they sold 3000 six-bottle cases within the first few hours of the morning – a repeat of their instant sell-out of the Dom Perignon Rosé 2002, which was released in January.
‘We’ve sold three times our original allocation. That’s £1m worth since nine o’clock this morning.’
Buyers were ‘predominantly from the UK,’ Birchley said. ‘It’s by far our biggest market for prestige Champagne.’ He added that they were expecting such a demand.
Vincent Chaperon, Dom Perignon’s chief oenologist and second in command to chef de cave Richard Geoffroy, was in London this morning for a ‘soft launch’ of the 2004 vintage to wine merchants.
Representatives of every big London merchant were there – Bordeaux Index, Fine+Rare, Farr Vintners, Berry Bros and Rudd among others – and all professed themselves delighted to be able to return to their offices and start selling what has been described by Geoffroy as ‘tactile, dark and chiselled’.
‘Commercially it will work very well,’ Tom Mann, managing director of LHK Fine Wines said. ‘[Bordeaux 2012] en primeur was a car crash in slow motion. Now at least we have something we can sell. We were hoping they would release during en primeur.’
Chaperon made much of the 2004’s great length and robust acidity, which demonstrates that it will have great ageing ability, he said. Those tasting around the table agreed.
Another merchant, Henry Matson of Farr Vintners, said the fact the 2004 is so different to the 2003 is a key selling point.
‘We can say to our customers they should buy the 03 to drink, but the 04 will last. Vintage variation like this will totally sell a vintage.’
The wine is a blend of 53% Pinot Noir and 47% Chardonnay. Yields in 2004, a vintage with excellent growing conditions, were an average 10-11,000kg per hectare, compared to 3-4000kg/ha in 2003.
‘We had to be careful to regulate yields in 2004,’ Chaperon said. ‘Even then, there were parcels of Chardonnay that were diluted.’
Dom Perignon 2004 is on the market for around £475 per six-bottle case.
Written by Adam Lechmere