Dom Perignon launched the latest vintage, the 1996, of its iconic Oenotheque Brut during a live webcast at Decanter on Monday night.
The webcast was viewed by decanter.com users worldwide who sent in a flood of questions for chef de cave Richard Geoffroy.
Tasting with Geoffroy were the Decanter tasting team, Decanter publishing director Sarah Kemp, wine critic Margaret Rand, Moet Hennessy communications director Gilly Mackwood, and other members of the Dom Perignon team.
Rand said of the 1996, ‘This was a year of enormous acidity and while the wines are usually very good they are definitely on the lean side. This, being recently disgorged, I would expect to taste young and tight – and it does, but it also has powerful toasty notes and huge weight.
Geoffroy (pictured, with Rand) said it was an ‘intriguing combination of flavours from a super ripe year, and acidity from a not so ripe year all in one’.
‘All 1996s are known for their high acidity, this is marginally on the high side, but not extreme. This is as challenging to Dom Perignon as it can be but it’s packed with serious flavours – sombre characteristics, starting with the minerality, then toast and smoke then iodine – almost a sea breeze.’
Kemp commented on Dom Perignon’s renowned ‘Burgundian’ style and its ‘rich Montrachet-style, extremely expressive nose of hazelnut and brioche’.
Viewers’ questions during the webcast covered such areas as disgorgement, whether another Oenotheque rose is planned (yes) the number of bottles DP makes and selection of parcels for Oenotheque.
As to case numbers, Geoffroy, in common with most Champagne chiefs, remained silent, though Rand added mischievously, ‘we always ask Richard how much wine DP makes, too, and he never tells us, either. Industry estimates are around five million bottles – a hell of an achievement if accurate’.
How did he decide which wines went into the top cuvee?
‘All vintages of DP will be of the standard of Oenotheque at some stage,’ Geoffroy replied. ‘This is the one salient quality of DP. They may not be released in chronological order, but they will all be part of the Oenotheque at some stage in their life cycle. Dom Perignon is never released unless it has the potential for ageing to Oenotheque.
The Dom Pérignon Brut 2002 was also launched on Monday night. It will be available on the UK market in September this year.
The other wines were tasted during the hour-and-a-half-long webcast were the Dom Pérignon Rosé 2000 and the Dom Pérignon Oenotheque Rosé 1990. The latter was released in March this year.