Dom Pérignon is a high-end brand launched by Moët & Chandon, which with time has become a house on its own–with its chef de cave–based in the Hautvillers Abbey where the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon worked and lived. But the winemaking facilities are the same for the two houses, although not the grapes supplies that are much more focused and of top quality for Dom Pérignon, which is firmly one of the finest–and most famous–champagnes.
In 1935, in the midst of challenging times for the champagne trade, the house decided to lure the traditional top-end clientele with a wine of ultimate quality and luxury. For this, they shipped 300 bottles of the 1921 vintage to their 150 best British clients. Special bottles were used, recalling the shape that was used for champagne at the time of Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon. This new special champagne enjoyed immediate success and in 1936, another 100 cases were shipped to the US under the Dom Pérignon brand this time. Once again, it was a stellar success for this particularly expensive and exclusive champagne; a myth was born.
Until the harvest of 1943, Dom Pérignon was produced from regular Moët & Chandon vintage champagnes, but already in its distinctive bottles. Eventually, from the 1947 vintage, Dom Pérignon has been produced separately from the start.
Eventually, Dom Pérignon spun off from Moët & Chandon (although still part of the house) to become a brand on its own, and since 1990, has his chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy, who retired in 2019.
Today, Dom Pérignon is the most successful prestige champagne and consistently among the most acclaimed champagnes that exist.
Vineyard and Production
Dom Pérignon is made of only pinot noir and chardonnay from 16 of the 17 grands crus of Champagne, and five premiers crus. Among these is Hautvillers with its Abbey where monk Dom Pérignon lived and worked, and that LVMH acquired to make it the house of Dom Pérignon. It is estimated that the current production is 5 million bottles per vintage, which is jaw-dropping if you consider the extreme quality of this wine, proving that in Champagne, quality and volume can and do coexist. The winemaking applied by Richard Geoffroy (Chef de Cave from 1990 to 2018) is similar that of Moët & Chandon and deliberately reductive, although with greater precision in the assemblages, much longer aging, and lower dosage of 5-6 g/l (extra brut).
I consider Dom Pérignon the ultimate expression of what champagne is meant to be: finesse and elegance with taste, in great harmony, for infinite drinkability. This superb balance is built by very carefully blending, in similar proportions, pinot noirs and chardonnays (which Richard Geoffroy calls yin and yang), slightly changing the final composition at every vintage. You can look at Dom Pérignon as Moët & Chandon on a superior level, which it is indeed.
Dom Pérignon champagnes are always vintage, also available in rosé. Some think that Dom Pérignon is an overly priced bling wine. In reality, it consistently ranks among the very best champagnes in blind tastings, and is often the best one, deservedly so. Dom Pérignon is among my top three favorite champagnes and given the degree of variability from vintage to vintage, my favorite to date is 1995 (P2), while Rosé 2000 is my favorite rosé champagne so far.