The Gospel of Dom Pérignon
Photo by Erin Cooper
When you think of champagne, it is difficult not to think of Dom Pérignon. We all know that it has historical ties, and has been around for hundreds of years but do we really know what makes it so incredibly special? As the official U.S. Brand Ambassador, Diego Meraviglia’s life’s work is dedicated to preaching the gospel of Dom Pérignon, and educating the industry and public about what makes it the world’s most luxurious champagne.
How did you come to be the U.S. Brand Ambassador for Dom Pérignon?
I think it was destiny. Dom Pérignon was always an inspiration for me throughout my studies as a Sommelier in Italy, and following into my career in the United States. It has consistently been one of my favorite wines, especially due to the history behind it. I am particularly passionate about history in general and think more people should study it. I was teaching courses all over the country and consulting for a multitude of establishments as well as distributors and schools, and amongst was the ‘Comite’ De Champagne.’ One day I got an email from someone who connected me to the recruiter that was handling the position. I immediately sent in my resume, and expressed my strong dream of working for Dom Pérignon. The rest came quite quickly.
What makes Dom Pérignon so iconic?
Aside from the “since 1668” history which very few brands can boast, there is the heritage and legacy behind the wine and the abbey of Hautvillers. Our forefather, Dom Pierre Pérignon, is recognized as the spiritual father of champagne. He spent forty-seven years developing and harnessing the method that then became the “methode Champenoise,” which is the only true sparkling wine production method that obtains high quality wines and is utilized worldwide today. The wine then got associated with royalty and luxury and has been that ever since. It was an incredible invention/discovery for the world. This history is completely at the basis of the brand’s reorganize-ability and iconic status.
What are the three most important things you’d like people to know about Dom Pérignon?
Firstly, we are only vintage. Most other maisons do a vintage edition, yes, but we are ONLY vintage, which in champagne is extremely rare and a risky proposition. This is our commitment to excellence, skipping vintages altogether when Mother Nature is not kind that year. This elevates Dom Pérignon into the realm of fine Burgundy or Bordeaux. It can be collected, aged, cellared and sold at auction. Verticals can be presented, and everyone can have an opinion or a favorite amongst the various vintages. It keeps the wine exciting, and creates anticipation every release.
Secondly, our vineyards. We make our wine with a core blend of eight Grand Cru vineyards and the one historical single-vineyard of Hautvillers which is classified as Premier Cru. The quality of our chardonnay and pinot noir grapes is unparalleled. Other wineries have great grapes too, but you simply cannot get better fruit anywhere in Champagne than the ones we make our wine with.
Thirdly, TIME. A lot of time behind us in the form of history and a ton of time that we dedicate to the production of every single vintage. Our wines are aged longer and age longer than any other champagne in existence on a consistent level. This creates a complexity, harmony, elegance, depth and structure that is unparalleled.
Why is Dom Pérignon more expensive than other brands of Champagne?
Well, consider that of all the wine made in the world, champagne is less than 1%, and of that 1% vintage champagne is less than 8% on average. We are the rare of the rare of the rare. Our grapes also come from the most expensive agricultural real estate in the world. On top of that, add the investment of ten years of aging in our cellars for every single bottle that is released.
What are some common misconceptions that people have about Dom Pérignon or champagne in general?
That the wine is not terroir driven. Regarding champagne in general, that it is not even a wine. People need to understand how much of a wine champagne actually is. It is not some separate beverage of the wine world. It is one of the planet’s true fine wines with all the applications and connections that come with it.
What is the quirkiest pairing you’ve enjoyed with Dom Pérignon?
For me it was Lamb Burger and Rose’ Dom Pérignon. Incredibly decadent…
What is the rarest bottle of Dom Pérignon in existence, and where is it?
I would most likely say the original vintage of 1921. I know there are some bottles kept secretly back in Epernay although, one was opened for a high-end event in New York recently. I would generally say 1992, 1996, 2002 and wait for the 2008 to come out.
When you aren’t drinking Dom Pérignon, what is your drink of choice?
Bordeaux. I only drink wine. Rarely do I touch spirits, and when I do they have to be top notch. Never beer and probably five times a year a cocktail. I am a complete Sommelier. A wine guy, all the way through my soul.