The summer of 2003 was blistering hot in France, only to be followed by an extreme winter and harsh spring filled with unusual frosts that destroyed a majority of the Côte des Blancs Chardonnay crop. While this doesn’t sound ideal to anyone, such conditions are even more peril when your business is producing vintage Champagne. Thanks to the inclement weather that year, no house could produce a solid vintage, except of course, the masterminds at Dom Pérignon‘s Abbaye d’Hautvillers.
Launched today, Dom Pérignon’s vintage 2003 tastes like the marvel that it was to yield. Cellar master Richard Geoffroy describes it as “a duality between restraint and expression,” but above all for him this particular vintage speaks to their deep-rooted philosophy and commitment to the brand’s legacy. “There was never the slightest doubt that we would produce a vintage that year,” he explained via satellite at the NYC premiere. Making high-quality Champagne is at the very heart of what Dom Pérignon does, and they saw this challenge as a test of their greatness—one they haven’t endured since producing another of Geoffroy’s favorites, the vintage ’76.
The perfectly balanced 2003 is the upshot of a powerful tension between the white and black grapes. The vintage has character, but remains quintessentially Dom Pérignon with a round, rhythmical finish that dances delicately between mineral and floral flavors. To the skilled chef de cave, the 2003 is an intense memory, and Geoffroy beautifully captures this by saying, “I wish every single vintage could be as strong as 2003.”