To declare or not

Dom Pérignon (Photo: Dom Pérignon)

Under the heading Dom vintages becoming an annual event Wine-Searcher featured a story by James Lawrence suggesting that Dom Pérignon is devaluing their brand currency by declaring too many vintages. They declared a vintage every year, for example, between 2002 and 2006.

Dom Pérignon’s chef de cave, Richard Geoffrey, responded by saying,

“Historically, Dom Pérignon was released only in the best vintages. However, today I prefer to think of my job as ‘witnessing the vintage’, that is to say, I want to express what mother nature gave us. So whether we’re talking about the perfect conditions in 2002 or the torrid weather in 2003, there’s still an interesting story to tell.”

When I buy a bottle of Dom Pérignon I feel that I’m paying a healthy premium to get top quality every time. I wouldn’t like to see that quality compromised in favour of a statement about the character of an under-performing vintage.

How often do New Zealand’s iconic wine producers skip a vintage? I conducted a survey in 2015. Here are the results from most to least selective (50% indicates that the wine was made in only half the vintages since it was first made).

Wine Percentage of years not made
Church Road Tom Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot 66%
Esk Valley The Terraces 50%
Trinity Hill Homage Syrah 42%
Sacred Hill Rifleman’s Chardonnay 18%
Craggy Range Le Sol Syrah 13%
Destiny Bay Magna Praemia 10%
Te Mata Coleraine 9%
Dry River Lovat Syrah 5%
 Stonyridge Larose  3%
 Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc  0%
Neudorf Moutere Chardonnay  0%
 Kumeu River Mate’s Chardonnay  0%
 Bell Hill Chardonnay and Pinot Noir  0%
 Ata Rangi Pinot Noir  0%
 Felton Road Block 5 Pinot Noir  0%


*I am a director of Wine-Searcher

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