Dom Pérignon Champagne is a sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France by the Moët & Chandon company.
It is to be emphasized that, ironically, the man after whom this sparkling wine is made, Dom Pierre Pérignon, in fact focussed his work on preventing wine from developing bubbles. See the entry on Pierre Pérignon for details.
Dom Pérignon Champagne is made from white grapes (Chardonnay) and red grapes (Pinot Noir), in portions ranging from 40 to 60 percent of each depending on the year. Juice from each is fermented separately then blended.
While the grapes are being pressed, sulfite is added to kill off any natural wild yeasts present, so that the company’s own yeast can be added. One yeast is used for primary fermentation; a different one for the secondary.
The wine is aged in a bottle for a minimum of seven years, then rebottled to get the sediment out. It’s then held for six months, then sold.
Dom Pérignon Champagne is not made every year; it is only produced in grape-growing years that the company considers exceptional.
Some wine experts feel that really good years, such as 1988 and 1996, need 20 years to really become spectacular.
The Moët & Chandon company was founded as the Moët et Cie. company in 1743 by Claude Moët.
In 1794, Moët et Cie purchased the Abbey of Hautvillers, where the man named Dom Pierre Pérignon had worked, as well as its vineyards. The Abbey had been dissolved during the French Revolution in 1789.
The company name of Moët et Cie was changed to Moët et Chandon in 1832 when Pierre-Gabriel Chandon de Briailles, who married into the Moët family ownership as a son-in-law, became a full co-partner.
Moët & Chandon did not bottle its first batch of what was to become their Dom Pérignon brand of champagne until 1921. At the time, another company — Mercier — actually owned the right to use the term “Dom Pérignon” as a brand name.
Moët & Chandon purchased the rights to the name “Dom Pérignon” in 1930.
In 1936, on New Year’s Eve in New York, the company finally released that first batch of wine bottled in 1921, labelling it as “Dom Pérignon.”