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Thursday, October 6, 2022
Wine Thang: The legend of Dom P?gnon
Dom_Perignon

Each week, the staff of Ravine Winery share their expertise and offer a brief explanation about an aspect of wine. So, whether you’re an expert oenophile or a newbie just finding your way around wine country, we trust you’ll enjoy. Cheers!

Dom Pérignon is a champagne produced by the Champagne house Moët & Chandon in northern France. The line was gifted to the Moët family as a wedding present in 1927 by Champagne Mercier, a prominent Champagne producer.

It is named after Dom Pérignon, a monk and cellar master at the Benedictine Abbey in Hautvillers in the late 1600s. He was a pioneer for Champagne but who, contrary to popular myths, did not discover the champagne method for making sparkling wines.

It was an English scientist, Christopher Merret, who first recorded the method used in Champagne today – adding sugar to an already fermented wine to cause a second fermentation, which creates not only alcohol but … bubbles (CO2).

He was able to achieve this thanks to the superior strength of English glass bottles, compared to their French equivalents. Upon Dom Pérignon’s first taste of “bubbly” his famous quote was, “Come quickly, I’m tasting stars.”

By the 19th century, sparkling wines started to catch on as the main style of production in the Champagne region. 

In 1935, the company that handled the Moët & Chandon family of Champagnes distributed 300 bottles of what would become Dom Pérignon. It was a celebratory gift for the 100-year anniversary of the business and was an immediate hit.

Dom Pérignon was first sold in 1936. It is made using a blend of about 50 per cent Pinot Noir and 50 per cent Chardonnay. However, the proportion of each varietal changes with every vintage.

For many years Dom Pérignon grapes were sourced exclusively from the historic vineyards at Hautvillers where the legendary monk lived and sourced his grapes. Although numbers are never officially published, it is thought that upward of a million bottles are produced per vintage.

Despite this scale, it remains one of the highest-rated and most desirable Champagnes on the market.