DP’s Geoffroy defends multiple releases

Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave Richard Geoffroy has passionately spoken out in defence of multiple Champagne releases, insisting there is “more latitude in playing the vintage game than ever”.

Richard Geoffroy

Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, Richard Geoffroy

Speaking during a launch tasting of the 2006 vintage at celebrity favourite the Chiltern Firehouse in London today, Geoffroy addressed the subject:

“There was a tradition in Champagne to only make a vintage release in the best years – I’m not so keen on that, it doesn’t mean anything.

“We’ve released five vintages in a row: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, which is unprecedented and has never happened in the history of Dom Pérignon but we’re meant to witness the vintages.

“There is more latitude in playing the vintage game than ever, which I’m very proud of. I can release more regularly but smaller volumes.

“Some people might think we’re playing it safe via the status of the brand but every vintage has its story. In an ideal world I’d make a vintage wine every year.

“With the different vintages you have to turn the challenges into opportunities. It’s about taking the risk and reinventing ourselves with each vintage.

“There’s a debate in Champagne at the moment about reserving vintage releases for the best years but there shouldn’t be any artificial limitations put on it.

“The first half of the last decade was fantastic – we should witness how remarkable those vintages were. When the quality is that spectacular you have to put the wines forward for release.”

Geoffroy told attendees at the tasting that it was normal now to release “seven to eight vintages” per decade rather than three to four as was customary in the past.

“It started with 2002, it was a short vintage but it would have been foolish not to declare it. The same can be said for 2005. I come from a medicine background so there’s a sense of bringing things to life. I don’t think regular releases devalues the concept – luxury can’t be artificial.

“Some houses limit themselves to three vintages a decade but that makes no sense to me, plus they might pick the wrong three. It’s just not practical.

“As winemakers we’re meant to make wine. I’m on a mission to make glorious vintages and I don’t want to be dictated to by strategists or accountants,” he said.

As for future DP releases, Geoffroy hinted that 2008 might make it to market but appeared more reserved about the quality of 2007. “2008 is a one off on a par with 1996. It was a very taught vintage, whereas 2007 is not on a par with 2008 or 2009,” he said.

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