Take a moment to consider what ‘Plénitude’ means:
‘A state which is at its highest level of development, which is in full force and intensity, is complete.’
and one might think choosing it as the new name for Dom Pérignon’s Oenothèque champagne a touch immodest, all be it easier to pronounce! Especially so along side the claim that DP reaches this exalted state not once but no less than three times over the course of its long life!
However having been lucky enough to recently taste a selection of extraordinary P2 vintages I would have to agree that DP’s Plénitude simply ‘does exactly what is says on the tin.’
Presenting a vertical tasting of Dom Pérignon’s P2 wines chef de cave Richard Geoffrey reveals his physician’s mind using the metaphor of a double helix to describe the way successive plenitudes of the wine come to the fore during its development. The first after about 8 years when the vintage is first released, the second after a further eight to ten years when P2 is released and finally after about 30 years P3. We stray further into a discussion of how time at Dom Pérignon is non-linear, which is why as DP develops it reaches a series of relatively stable plateaux, and this along with the strikingly elemental marketing imagery contributes to a fleeting vision of Richard the alchemist bending space & time to create these phenomenal wines in the silence of DP’s cellars.
Whether or not there is any magic involved the key factor in creating P2 is extended active yeast maturation over the first vintage release. Richard believes this process preserves the wines energy & intensity and makes it more integrated and elongated. He makes a clear distinction between power and intensity; the latter is never weighty and is lingering and memorable. The prime contribution of the yeast is to fight oxidation and the wine actually eats up the lees gaining depth and profundity.
The tasting notes:
DP 1998 P2
A nose of white flowers, acacia, Hawthorne, patisserie, ripe lemon, toast, smoke, very complex and persistent.
In the mouth, med high acidity, more pastry, a great minerality, tart citron, med body. This is beautifully subtle with great elegance and length. A really seductive wine.
DP 1996 P2
More pronounced citrus fruit on the nose, some lemon, some orange peel, roasted nuts and a spectrum of floral notes.
On the palate more powerful flavours of nut tart, praline, citrus, a faint touch of the vegetal and then smoky notes. The wine has a taught mineral back bone and has great length and persistence. Really complex and characterful.
DP 1995 P2
On the nose: smoke, baked lemons, then a complex succession of pastry aromas, white flowers and cake spices.
On the palate great balance, fresh acidity and plenty of body. Complex with an endless succession of, fruit salad, smoke, minerals & underlying pastry notes. For a wine of this age it is extraordinarily vibrant yet with the full depth of its many years of development. Superb!
DP 1993 P2
This wine was disgorged in 2006 so has ten years of bottle age too.
On the nose aromas of dried porcini mushrooms, bit of chalk, a touch of acacia honey, with underlying patisserie & bread. An incredible complex & heady nose.
In the mouth again great vibrancy, intensity it takes up residence on the tongue and just stays there. So integrated that it is hard to separate out the individual characteristics of dried mushroom, delicate citrus, bread etc. Taste and silky mouth feel meld into an intensely pleasurable experience. Subtle minerality is the lasting impression.
Richard says an element of oxidity has sneaked in a little extra sweetness & body at the loss of some complexity which is just fine by me! Where the 1995 is a more cerebral pleasure the 93 is much more sensual. For me this wine was the peak of an amazing tasting!
Current Dom Pérignon vintages are: DP P1: 2006, DP P2: 1998 and there are P3 1997 & 1983.