The release of the 2006 Dom Pérignon marked the first time in their history that a 5th consecutive vintage was declared. In recent times Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy has been very open about the fact that he is steering the brand away from only releasing a prestige Champagne a handful of times each decade, as has historically been the case.
Writing on his own website ‘Creating Dom Pérignon’ Richard reflected that the declaration of 5 consecutive and unique expressions was “maybe my proudest moment in 25 years at the head of Dom Pérignon”. Even so, with the 2007 not making the grade and the 2011 also unlikely to be declared, it may be at least another decade before we see this feat equalled.
2006 saw irregular weather in the vineyards, with a warm and dry spring climaxing in a scorching hot July. The temperatures then dropped away somewhat and August was both wet and humid. The vintage was saved by the strong summer weather returning in September, both drying out any patches of botrytis (fungus leading to mould/rot) and driving a good ripeness in the grapes.
Beginning on September 11th harvesting was methodical and protracted to allow each parcel of vines to ripen in turn. Taking just over 3 weeks to complete, it has gone down as one of the longest on record for Dom Pérignon.
The patience required in the vineyard was also required in the cellars, with Richard Geoffroy noting that the maturation of the wine also took much longer than usual, only starting to show the harmony and finesse just prior to its release in October 2015.
Comprised of 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, the official tasting note tells us that the nose gives an immediate impression of its bright and airy bouquet, followed by “a floral, fruity pastel tone (that) quickly darkens into candied fruit, ripe hay and toasted notes, along with hints of liquorice”.
On the palate it is “complex and edgy, silkier than it is creamy”. “The whole eventually melts into an exquisite bitterness tinged with the briny taste of the sea”. Richard Geoffroy went on to add that the high PH level of the vintage had proved problematic for him: “It needed to be turned around, so I had to stretch it out to achieve the signature DP harmony. The vintage is about brightness and the art of blending. Despite minimal dosage 2006 is lush and ample, fleshy without being fat and has an intricate, mother of pearl-like gliding texture. It’s one of the most complex vintages at the time of release that I’ve ever made,”.
My own tasting note largely followed these lines, particularly picking out that, whilst toasty and bready, the palate lacked the characteristic creaminess usually found in a Dom. On the palate the liquorice came through clearly, as did notes of confection (parma violets) and a light nuttiness.
As was now tradition for the brand, a limited ‘Creators Edition’ was produced. For this vintage the design was a collaboration between Icelandic singer Bjork and British filmmaker and music video director Chris Cunningham. Explaining the choice, Richard Geoffroy said “We try to align the artists with the character of the vintage. She’s been on our minds for a while and 2006 was the right vintage for her as it’s all about brightness and light”. Bjork and Chris were already long-time collaborators on various pieces including one of her music videos.
The creation, titled “From Earth to Heart”, featured an earthy green light shining down on the bottle from above, seemingly piercing the glass with its glow. The imagery was there to evoke the illumination generated by the new vintage as it meets the world, creating a link between earth and emotion. This limited design was released in October 2015 at the same time as the standard vintage bottles.
A further limited bottling was released a year later in October 2016, designed by contemporary German artist Michael Riedel. Having a similar creative approach and affinity for transformation and transcending the original material, his additional collaboration was also seen as a natural fit with the brand.
Deconstructing the letters D and P and layering them across both the box and bottle label, Riedel designed an optical metaphor inspired by the passing of time, signifying the transformation of Dom Pérignon during its time spent ageing on the lees.
The standard edition bottles were housed in the usual black display boxes, with one small change to previous releases. The small embossed lettering stating the vintage was not present as in previous years and the only reference to the year was now to be found on the shield sticker.
Bottles were secured with the standard vintage branded corks and the dark green capsules used in recent vintages.
Magnums of the 2006 were readily available, and a ‘flute’ set was also released. In the UK this was merely the addition of 2 Dom Pérignon branded flutes in a separate box, but for the US market a custom designed box that housed both bottle and glasses was produced.
A 2006 Rosé is currently scheduled for release in 2018.