Remuage, dégorgement, dosage. These are all words. For Champagne, these words, amongst many others, signify a rigorous process that contributes to a consistent quality from the region.
Dom Pérignon, one of the leading brands from LVMH, has put their technical language to use in a rebranding exercise of their late-release champagne. Previously called Oenothèque, after their wine storage cellar, the second release of vintage champagne is an opportunity to experience the effects of 21 years of lees aging.
While best left to Dom Pérignon to explain their research, the concept of a “plénitude” (or plentitude) is that champagne can experience three distinct periods of quality improvement, plateauing in between. The first plentitude is experienced after 7-9 years and is their flagship vintage cuvée release, first produced in 1921. The second is experienced after a further 10 years and to date has been called Oenothèque, with the third in bottle for an additional 10 years. An Oenothèque Rosé has also been produced in exceptional years (1990 and 1993).
This year, the Oenothèque 1998 release has been rebranded explicitly as the second plentitude, “P2”. This short identifying name is reminiscent of Bollinger’s “RD” or recently disgorged, and no doubt will leave a clear distinction between the second and third plentitude in years to come (previously vintages 1969 and 1975 have been released as third plentitudes, both disgorged in 2006).
Looking back at the Oenothèque series, they have proven to be consistent investments with younger vintages showing relatively low volatility given the limited quantities released. 1990, for example, has made some 180% gains in the last five years.
Modelling these wines on market prices calculated by WineOwners.com, their price is mainly a function of their point score, also with a linear contribution from the time since their release. Opportunities may present themselves in the most recent two vintages and in the 1988.
How will the P2 live up to the history of Oenothèque? The anticipated release price reported by Forbes is SFr 335 per bottle, or just over SFr 4000 per case. This puts a slight premium on the market price of Oenothèque 1996, but is in line with the wine-searcher average retail price. Some comparable point scores for the P2 1998 will be able to put this price into context when it is released later this summer. Also anticipated is the release of P3 later this year for vintages 1971 or 1982, which will generate interest at the higher end of SFr 10,000 per case – again a price pleasingly below previous releases of the third plentitude. Glancing over at Bollinger’s RD, the P2 and P3 price levels undoubtedly do make the Bolly RD look attractive at around SFr 150 per bottle, particularly as we note their recommended pairing with Swiss Gruyère cheese.