2002 Dom P2 with Chef de Cave Vincent Chaperon

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Last night, my wife and I were guests of Vincent Chaperon, the new Chef de Cave of Dom Pérignon. He invited us for a dinner celebrating the release of the 2002 Dom Pérignon Plénitude 2 Brut Champagne, or P2 for short. It was great to see Vincent again and congratulate him on his new role, taking over for long time Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy. He greeted us with glasses of 2008 Dom Pérignon Brut Champagne, which was showing lovely harmony with both the chalky energy of the vintage and laid-back richness that is the signature of this wine. The venue was amazing, a private home on Lombard street in San Francisco that had views like I had never seen before of the bay. It was an evening full of decadent luxury, with food prepared by Chef Yann Nury from New York city and plenty of the excellent 2002 P2!

Plénitude is the name that Vincent and his team have given to the different phases of Dom Pérignon’s development over time. The first release, after at least 8 years of age, they refer to internally as P1, although on the label and to the rest of us, it is just Dom Pérignon. They set aside a portion of each vintage for extended ageing on the lees in the cellars in Épernay, bottling them with cork instead of crown caps for the bottle fermentation. These are the bottles that will eventually become the P2 and P3 releases. Vincent describes the P2 stage of the wine as being open and harmonious, while the P3 is at the plateau of maturity. As the time on the lees goes up, the amount of dosage drops, so although these wines are very slightly dosed, almost always under 6 grams per liter.

Vincent describes the 2002 P2 as a wine of intensity, and I couldn’t agree more. At 17 years old, this wine is loaded with toasted brioche, melted beurre d’Issigny and ripe white peach fruit. This is not a shy Dom Pérignon! It has developed deep complexity over the years with great oyster shell notes to contrast the fruit and toast. Most importantly, the finish is very fresh and still has the chalky minerality that we all look for in tête de cuvée Champagne. It is unmistakably Dom, and the kind of Champagne that I would love to meet in a blind tasting because of its strong signature.

I was truly surprised at how flexible this big, rich Champagne was with food. We paired it with everything from vegetable dishes like the turnip and smoked cream and onion Wellington with black truffles to cooked oysters and fabulous pieces of white fish sashimi. The Champagne never missed a beat, with flavor to stand up to the most exotic flavors and cut to refresh after the richest. It was a magical night.

This wine is not yet available, but we hope to see it in summer. If you would like some, I encourage you to add yourself to the waiting list. There won’t be nearly enough to go around!

A toast to you!

Gary Westby

Gary Westby