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Geoffroy makes progressive DP pledge

Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, spoke to the drinks business this week about his 21 years in charge of the brand, his hopes for the vintages from the first decade of this century and the further emphasis he intends to place on rosé and the Oenothèque range.

In his own words, Geoffroy thinks that in 21 years he has achieved both “a lot and very little”.

The main efforts he said have been in upping the vintage characteristics in each wine and in “pushing” the brand ever further in terms of quality, image and in markets both new and old.

“The brand always has to be pushed,” he said, “and it makes DP much more progressive than you might think.

“I would, unashamedly, borrow anything high-tech to support my ambitions. Whatever the status of the brand you have to keep pushing and keep taking risks. There is a sense of certainty that DP will be around forever, as long as we are still prepared to take risks.”

He described the brand as being “hot” at the moment, “but for all the right reasons – wine reasons rather than bling”.

However, although he clearly feels DP could do anything at the moment, he insists that he will not be swayed to follow any prevailing trend and produce single variety, single vineyard, brut zero or even biodynamic versions of DP.

“There will never be a non-vintage DP, nor do I want to produce a single variety or single vineyard DP, and I could. It would be so easy to cash in on the DP name but it’s against our nature, we are dedicated to vintage. It allows us to reinvent ourselves year in, year out.

“I don’t want consistency from a wine every year but I do believe in the consistency of excellence, which being vintage-only allows. Likewise, I won’t do biodynamics. I don’t believe in recipes of the past. There has to be a more modern way to do things.”

If the DP range is not going to change, Geoffroy did say that there would be greater emphasis on rosé and the Oenothèque ranges instead.

Geoffroy was tight-lipped on the subject of future vintages but did say: “The first decade of the 2000s has been superb, I’m expecting great things from that decade. I would compare the wines to those from the 20’s and 60’s. With the exception of 2001, every year had the potential to be vintage.”

He singled out 2003 as a “hell of a wine” and stated that he was not “obsessed with acidity”.

“This myth of always needing acidity has to be fought. I believe in the virtue of integration. It sounds very Asian but you should aim for a polished finish with full integration of tannins, acidity and bitterness.

“In low acid vintages bitterness makes up for it. 1976 is a good example. It’s glorious and will age for 100 years, easily.”

“I’m amazed to see so many Champagne makers going for excrutiatingly high acid,” he continued. “I don’t disapprove but it is not something I would ever want for DP, it’s against the harmony. Pushing just one facet in a wine is what I disapprove of.”

As for the future, Geoffroy said that, naturally, the brand is considering the potential in Asia, however, he made it clear that it would not be, “at the expense of those who have followed DP for years.

“We’re not going to be lured by China and neglect everyone else. It’s very important to be fair and loyal.

Rupert Millar, 09.06.2011

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