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August 05, 2014

Dom Pérignon’s Second Plénitude

By Sasha Levine | Wine

Dom Perignon's Second Plenitude
Photo courtesy of Dom Pérignon

Good things come to those who wait, and this month that applies as much to those who patiently anticipate the first release of Dom Pérignon’s Second Plénitude (P2) edition as it does to the process of making the buzzed-about Champagne itself.

The story begins with the brand’s winemaker, Richard Geoffroy, who discovered not long ago that Dom Pérignon’s Champagnes actually mature in a series of plateaus, or “plenitudes,” after their second in-bottle fermentation rather than the more gradual arc of improvement most wines undertake as they age.

In other words, Geoffroy and his team discovered that letting the bottle rest on the lees—which means keeping the yeast sediment in the bottle—greatly influences the quality of the wine in three distinctive phases, each spaced roughly ten years apart, rather than incrementally over time. (The first plenitude is about seven to nine years, the second is a minimum of 12 years and the third is at least 20 years.) The result, of course, is the ability to capture and present the same vintage at each of its most exemplary stages.

As the first vintage to come out under the new name (wines of this maturity were previously known as Oenothèque), P2-1998 ($375) is a welcome addition to the brand’s repertoire. Rather than the weighty, fatty feel you might expect from a Champagne this age, the 1998 vintage has a delightful minerality, with citrus, floral and spice notes and the slight buttery quality that Dom Pérignon is known for. Skip the flute and sip P2 in a large white-wine glass to take full advantage of the complexity.

The release is limited and will be available in stores beginning this month. And while you can expect more P2’s in your future—most vintages will reach a second and third plenitude—there’s no reason not to call the first one your own.