Travel, Food & Drink

Through the Grapevine: Insights from Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave

Richard Geoffroy, Chef de Cave at Dom Pérignon, explains what makes the difference between a simply great bottle of champagne and a true cellar vintage

Born in Champagne country, Richard Geoffroy might never have followed a career rooted in the vineyards of one of France’s most revered champagne houses had he not first made a “detour” into medicine before planting himself in California’s Napa Valley. We spend five minutes with Dom Pérignon‘s affable Chef de Cave…

What is a Chef de Cave?
I’ve been described as “the nose” of Dom Pérignon. I am responsible for deciding when to declare a Dom Pérignon vintage.

Photograph: Léo-Paul Ridet
Photograph: Léo-Paul Ridet

You’ve just launched the second phase of your 1998 vintage, P2…
Yes, you need to wait a long time for your second release, or “plenitude” as we call it. P2 is intriguing. It’s edgy yet embracing, like Dom Pérignon in high definition.

How did you get to where you are today?
I’m a physician by training. I’m from a family of Côte des Blancs winegrowers – seven generations – and when I was younger I was rebellious and ambitious. I broke away and studied medicine. But the magnet of the land started pulling so I went back to wine. I worked in Napa Valley in California before returning to my champagne roots, joining Dom Pérignon in 1990.

Tell us about your love of travel…
Traveling is about connecting with people. I’ve recently been in Iceland, which fascinated me. The long winters, the loneliness… And I keep going back to Brazil, I just love it.

Dom Pérignon P2, 750ml around £260 ($442)

A bottle of Dom Pérignon's "edgy yet embracing" P2 vintage
A bottle of Dom Pérignon's "edgy yet embracing" P2 vintage