Some notes on Dom Perignon “P2”. This is what we used to call “Oenotheque”: late-disgorged Dom Perignon that has been sat in their cellars, on its lees, for a few years longer than the “P1” release. “P” stands for plenitude: “the state of being full or complete”. “P1” is straight out of the box DP, currently 04, 05 or 06. “P2” is, if I catch the inference correctly, released at its second stage of completeness. “P3” is, or will be, the proper old kit: wines from the 1970s and 1980s. If you are lucky enough to have tasted Dom Perignon at 30 years old or more you will know that this is very serious hooch indeed.
These are serious wines. As with most Champagne you have to pay attention to really see just how good it is. The irony is that the best way of enjoying Champagne is in a Jacuzzi or spraying it over a young lady or off the back of a yacht, situations where one’s attention span can be compromised. Oh well.
You can up the scores for all save the 1998 by a point or more. The 1998 is the one to spray, the 1996 the one to examine, the 1995 the one to eat with and the 1993 the one to admire. Actually: can that – I’ve just got it. P1 is for spraying.
1996 Dom Perignon P2
Some power and a citric edge to this on the nose. Clearly some muscle underneath. A distinct steeliness, which follows in the mouth. Very punchy, and this tastes young. There is energy here, and the acidity carries everything on top of it like a wire-walker. Taut. A texture reminiscent of fine silk/steel mesh, finely woven…… Coming back to this it is the winner of the quartet for me. Power, lift and taut strength. A drawn crossbow. Length. 95, maybe more looking back.
1995 Dom Perignon P2
There is depth and, even more, breadth to this. Foursquare on the nose. Minerality and a coolness to it, but with stuffing underneath. This is rich and chunky in the mouth. Not as balletically-balanced as the 1996 – this is painted with a broader brush. Very good. Long. 95 again.
1998 Dom Perignon P2
Very punchy, cool and creamy nose. Buttery, with a hint of sherbet tang. Melted candy, Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit. All creamy sweetness in the mouth. Candy again: remember Wham bars? Fat. Oleaginous. Developed. Sparkling Puligny from a ripe vintage. Goes on. 93.
1993 Dom Perignon P2
This is focussed, precise, on the nose. A slightly herby edge to it. Edgy and a touch reductive. And lovely in the mouth. Developed in a very classy, attractive way. The structure is all here. A silver-haired beauty. Still very edgy. A touch of salinity and some dry extract. Fresh. Tastes younger, certainly in the finish, than the 1998, which looks a little plain in comparison…. Coming back to this, and all four of them are changing in the glass, it is lovely. The silver fox. This is real wine. 96.
And, to finish, some random quotes from Dom Perignon Chef de Cave: Richard Geoffroy. On a scale of one to ten in terms of whether or not he appeared to have been smoking dope, he was at about six:
“Style is a non-vintage thing”
“Energy goes up with age”
“P2 is a magnified character of DP. A fantasised Champagne character. Playful, witty though deep, not shallow”
Mr Geoffroy is one of those guys that maybe, just maybe, might be making it all up as he goes along and having a laugh to boot. As it happens, I’m a believer, and the evidence is in the wine. None of these are cheap; all are rather good. On a different day I’d have given the 1993 an easy 98 points, which is how scores work.