Ultratravel U.S.

Fall 2015

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36 ultratravel Richard Geoffroy, chef de cave at Dom Pérignon, takes us behind the scenes of the making of the label's latest—and he will argue greatest—vintage rosé Champagne. BY TALI JAFFE A SPARKLING PERSONALITY COURTESY OF DOM PÉRIGNON A native of the Champagne region, Richard Geoffroy is also the visionary behind Dom Pérignon's famous bubbly. Q&A N ot that they need much help selling their product—Dom Pérignon is one of the most recognizable labels in the competitive Champagne market—but the brand's chef de cave (cellar master), Richard Geoffroy, is pretty good at the job. In his charming Gallic accent, Geoffroy waxes poetic about grapes, soil, climate and process with passion that would bring even the most staunch teetotaler to pop a cork. Here, we speak to the Champagne whisperer about his sparkling career, defining vintages and why he will never drink from a champagne flute. Can you explain the difference between vintage and non- vintage Champagne? The simple answer is, when a bottle is labeled vintage, it's made from one specific year. No blending of years. In Champagne in particular, a vintage represents the peak of the best of the grapes. It spends a longer time in the cellar. It's also philosophical: it goes back to the process of creating. It's about the risk and pushing the envelope. Each vintage is like reinventing ourselves. There's so much variation in seasons and the climate, which means that every single year is distinct in character. In recent years, for example, it's been so hot. That leads to very ripe fruits, as compared to the cooler-climate years. How long were the grapes aged for Dom Pérignon's Vintage Rosé 2004? The 2004 vintage, more than any, is so true to the pinot noir grape. Personally, I consider it the Holy Grail. There is nothing more fickle and demanding than pinot noir grapes! Maturation, the process—it's so easy to get wrong. So you have to be on your toes. And when it delivers, it's magical. The word I love to use for it is 'vibrant.' It's intense and it gives me a sense of achievement like no other. It's a quest, tending to something like this. And while it's a very controlled situation, you can't be too serious—you have let life in. If you look at Dom Pérignon's rosé, in general, it stands out from the other rosé Champagnes. It's not shy; life is too short to be shy. What type of glass do you prefer to drink your Champagne from? A large wine glass. I don't recommend a flute; it doesn't do Champagne justice. If you drink from a coup, the wine will taste flat. Think of it this way, you can taste what you can see, so with an ample wine glass, the taste is as ample. The character is expanded and the mouth-feel is crucial, the texture. Of course, this is a rule to apply to the greatest wines and Champagnes. Since 1999, we've been pouring Champagne in wine glasses at tastings and events. If we manage not to finish the bottle, what's the best way to preserve it? At a restaurant or bar, there's a tool used to insert the headspace of the bottle with gas to prevent oxygen from entering. At home, use the stopper. Though, one bottle shouldn't last too long—it's hard for me to imagine that.

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