I’m more in the Krug camp than Dom Perignon (give me richness any day). But still, I wasn’t going to turn down a glass of the Dom Perignon P2 1998 when winemaker Vincent Chaperon came to town recently.
What was once known as the Oenotheque range, the Dom Perignon P2 1998 is effectively a late disorged release.. The theory behind this release is that Dom Perignon goes through three different development stages (referred to as a ‘plénitude’), with distinct characteristics in each. This ’98 is in the second stage, which is apparently a great time to drink it.
As Chaperon explains, 6-10 years is the first plénitude (P1) where the wine ‘reaches the style‘. After 12-20 years of lees ageing comes the second plénitude, where ‘the wine is really speaking louder’. Finally, after 30 years, Dom Perignon hits the third plenitude, where there is ‘a lot of maturity and richness, but on the other hand it is still young‘.
This particular bottle was disgorged in 2014 (so 16 years on lees). Interestingly, Chaperon says that they aren’t particular about recent disgorgement, even though I wonder if this fizz could have been marginally fresher 12 months ago. Still, there is glory here.
Golden green straw coloured, this looks really quite developed now, the autolysis taking over (though some bottle age too methinks). Lots of complexity though – you can see the layers of leesy richness through the middle and stamping through the finish.
Still a broader style than say 1996 and definitely louder. Broad and opulent. That width is only just being reined in by the tart (not soft) acidity that seems almost clinical. Such contrasts! Maybe not the harmony you expect.
For an LD Champagne like this its important to step back and have another look, and I’m glad I did – I stopped being a grumpy fuck and appreciated that this is impressively complex Champagne. The layers of flavour, the interplay between acidity, yeast and remnant fruit makes this something fine. It’s not a true superstar, but maybe its just not a superstar bottle.
Best drinking: 2017-2019. 18/20, 93/100. 12.5%, $550. Would I buy it? No. I can’t justify the dollars.
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