Geoffroy: Temperature has a profound effect on Champagne

17th October, 2012 by Lucy Shaw

Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave Richard Geoffroy has revealed he believes temperature has a “profound” effect on the flavour profile of Champagne.

DP Oenothèque ’96 at the start of the temperature control experiment

Geoffroy’s discovery is the result of a temperature control experiment with the 1996 vintage of DP Oenothèque at Les Crayères restaurant in Reims this week.

The experiment, titled IV-VIII-XVI, explored the effect temperature has on the characteristics of Oenothèque ‘96, degree by degree.

It aimed to slow down the maturation process of the Champagne, suspending it in its various states for as long as possible in order to reveal its different facets.

The roman numerals refer to the number of glasses used (4), the different temperature stages (8), and the end temperature of the wine (16 degrees).

“I chose the 1996 Oenothèque because I needed a vintage with a broad range of expressions, and a wine with concentration and depth.

“It has the capacity to open out in a range of aromas and tastes, making it a wine that truly breathes,” Geoffroy told the drinks business before the event.

“I’m convinced Oenothèque ‘96 will lead us to the heart of this journey,” he added.

The table is set for the experiment at Les Crayères in Reims

With the room temperature set at 20 degrees, guests were poured a bottle of Oenothèque ‘96 (disgorged in 2008) into four glasses set in an open topped box with chilled panels to slow down the temperature increase of the wine.

The wines were then tasted every 15 minutes, from left to right and then right to left, with the wine raising in temperature from eight to 15/16 degrees by the end of the evening, revealing eight different 15-minute aromatic sequences.

At each of the eight temperature stages, an accompanying dish was served, designed specifically to enhance the character of the wine at its specific stage of evolution.

“I know Dom Pérignon very well, but I don’t know everything there is to know about the wines,” Geoffroy said.

“I decided to do this because I wanted to push the boundaries of experimentation to lead me to a new understanding of the mysteries of the wine,” he added.

Perceptible differences were found in the wine at each of the stages, moving from mineral at 8º, honeyed at 9º, zesty at 10º, buttery at 11º, earthy at 12º, truffly at 13º, smoky at 14º, and nutty at 15/16º.

Geoffroy believes that the ultimate temperature to serve Dom Pérignon is 12 degrees. “There’s truth in that temperature,” he said.

The experiment was devised over the course of two years by Geoffroy, managing director of Les Crayères Hervé Fort and head sommelier Philippe Jamesse.

The IV-VIII-XVI experience will be made available for groups to book at Les Crayères in the near future.

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