On 1 January, 2019 Vincent Chaperon became the new Dom Pérignon Chef de Cave. He succeeds Richard Geoffroy, with whom he has been working closely since 2005. This transmission is a compelling milestone in the history of Dom Pérignon, embodying a living heritage.
Between 1990 and 2009 Geoffroy declared no fewer than 15 vintages in the cellars of Dom Pérignon, expressing the creative ambitions of the Maison. He has applied his extraordinary talent like a high-wire acrobat above the terroir of Champagne, inventing where others were content to repeat.
Since Chaperon began working alongside Geoffroy in 2005, he has taken part in thirteen harvests and declared four vintages with him. They are, in the order in which they were declared, the 2005, 2006, 2009 and, most recently, 2008. Chaperon brings to the Dom Pérignon project his winemaker’s sensitivity and commitment to progress.
The year 2008
This passing of the torch coincides with the declaration of Dom Pérignon Vintage 2008, the culmination of the collaboration between Geoffroy and Chaperon. It recounts a shared vision, a fruitful dialogue between two exceptional talents and nature.
2008 was dominated by grey, overcast skies – an exception in a decade characterised by bold, generous sunshine. But nothing is ever a foregone conclusion. It was the month of September that, belatedly and miraculously, saved the day, just as in 2000 and 2006, or the iconic year of 1966. Maturity surpassed all expectations.
After a period of reluctance, the slender, pure, athletic character is expressed with warmth. The fruit is pronounced and clear, the aromatic persistence intense. “Dom Pérignon liberates the 2008 vintage, freeing it from an over-literal interpretation of the canons of champagne,” says Geoffroy.
International top ratings and awards abound for the 2008 vintage. James Suckling said: “The best Dom Pérignon since 2002. A vintage with very restrained, powerful style that have been released non-sequentially after the 2009. This has a lighter stamp of highly curated, autolytic, toasty aromas than many recent releases… This really delivers.” Antonio Galloni, of Vinous, said: “The 2008 Dom Pérignon is fabulous… What I admire most is the way it shows all the focus, translucence and energy that is such a signature of the year, and yet it also remarkably deep and vertical. In other words, the 2008 is a champagne that plays in three dimensions.”
Private Edition was treated to one-of-the-first tastings in South Africa, expertly led by Robert Gray, Moët Hennessy portfolio brand ambassador. We spoke about the grapes from Champagne, the best glasses to drink champagne from, the size of bubbles and the heritage of Dom Pérignon. And of course, we tasted the 2008, which was sublime. But the best description comes from British wine critic and writer, Jancis Robinson, who writes for the Financial Times and provides advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II. On tasting 2008 Robinson simply said: “Really kerpow!”
Read about luxury wines from extreme terroirs here.