The Best Dom Pérignon in a Generation

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Last night, Cinnamon and I checked in on the 2008 Dom Pérignon, now that it is available for sale. This has been a highly anticipated release, as the winemaking team decided to release the 2009 ahead of it, giving the 2008 an extra year on the lees. This vintage marks the first that Vincent Chaperon shared a leading roll along with Richard Geoffroy, the chef de cave for Dom Pérignon of 28 years. As usual, this is roughly half and half Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, almost all Grand Cru, with the addition of the historic vineyard sites in the premier cru of Hautvillers.

As many of you know, the 2008 vintage is a legendary one in Champagne. The same unusual weather pattern as 1996 repeated itself, with cool east winds and sunny days in September making for very high ripeness, but preserving very high acidity. When this happened in 1996, a great vintage in its own right, it was a first. So while the ingredients were spectacular, no one knew exactly what to do with them. When 2008 came, the Champenois were ready… Especially Mr. Geoffroy and Mr. Chaperon.

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We paired the 2008 Dom with our favorite Kelly’s Katch caviar, homemade blini, crème fraiche and chives from the garden. It was a luxurious, decadent experience- perfect for a Monday night! The nutty richness and complex depth of the caviar brought out the racy, mineral side of the Champagne. These great 2008’s love a rich dish to cut through, and the Dom was no exception. The 2008 Dom Pérignon reminds me a lot of the 2004 in its clean, bright, airy presentation, but is far more like the 2002 in terms of concentration and length. It is the complete package, and I have never had a current release Dom quite as good as this.

While many of the 2008’s are tight, and need a lot of time in the cellar before they will be ready, the Dom drinks extremely well now. That being said, it will last for generations, and I am sure we will see it as a P2 release in another decade and a P3 in a generation or so. I plan on being around to taste both!

A toast to you!

—Gary Westby

Gary Westby