With much fanfare and passion, Vincent Chaperon, the brand’s chef de cave, showcased a vintage that will wow its fans. Modern Luxury was among the 100 lucky guests, including some of the world’s most esteemed chefs.
The experiential night included headphones playing gentle piano music.
Iron lanterns lined a stone walkway at dusk, leading to the entrance of Kyoto’s Shogunzuka Seiryuden Temple. Clouds hung low, and a gentle breeze animated June’s full-bloom hydrangea on Mount Higashiyama as I walked inside the sacred space. I hold a map that outlines the many twists of the evening, a celebration that the minds behind Dom Pérignon dubbed 2023 Révélations. What would Vincent Chaperon, the brand’s inventive chef de cave, have up his formidable sleeve?
As it turns out, quite a bit in his “Matter to Light” big reveal. The evening’s three acts: a mind-blowing exhibition, a 2022 tasting and a dinner with two-Michelin-starred Japanese chef Yoshihiro Narisawa paired with the rosé vintage 2009.
The stunning 2009 vintage is creamy on the palate with blackberries and raspberries on the nose.
The chef de cave began the evening by speaking from a mini-stage as the crowd of 100 guests—dressed in tuxes, gowns and all manner of evening chic—gathered around him. “Time is about cycles,” said Chaperon, wearing a blue suit and black crew neck, his round glasses making him look like a Parisian art dealer as much as a great winemaker. “Every year, we start a new cycle that follows the seasons, and nature offers us something different every year. That’s why we have called this celebration From Matter to Light, as we take the complex matter of nature and transform it into a beautiful assemblage.”
First, the exhibition, better described as inspirational revelations, framed the temple’s interior walls. The displays, including photograms of grapes, represented Chaperon’s artistic muses, or, if we’re applying Simon Sinek’s “start with why” philosophy, the winemaker showed guests his raison d être. The most impactful pieces of the exhibit were black-and-white photos of Dom Pérignon’s team during last year’s harvest near Hautvillers, France. “Vinification” showed the brand’s team prepping grapes for processing. In a “Cultivating the Vines” section, a young field worker steadies a basket of grapes as she pours them into a larger bin, similar to Vincent Van Gogh’s “Le Moissonneur,” a field-working tableau from 1889.
The chic coterie enjoyed an elaborately choreographed surprise.
The next day during a lengthy interview in a Japanese tea house at the Four Seasons Kyoto, I told Chaperon that the photos of his colleagues were moving and impactful. I immediately understood his message. All of this—from harvest to bottling—is timeless. He smiled. “That’s it. This universal spectrum inspires everything I do. I’m always working on the past and the future.”
The evening’s second act was stagecraft and beauty. Guests assembled on an observation deck overlooking the city, its lights twinkling at dusk. Despite cloud cover, the fading sun cast a pink glow on the horizon. We noticed something waiting for us: 100 waist-high iron stands equipped with headsets and topped with empty wine glasses cradled perfectly in a holder. We placed the headsets over our ears and heard glorious piano music. From our right, a line of staff emerged. Synchronized, they waltzed forward two steps, then side-stepped once to arrive at the iron stands to pour. It was like an oenophile’s Chorus Line—how long did they practice? Oh, and the pour: a 2022 assemblage, still and straight from the vines.
Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa and Vincent Chaperon
Back inside the temple, a long black wooden table—with Dom Pérignon emblazoned on the front—set the stage for act three of Matter to Light. Spotlights shone on the table, and chef Narisawa emerged, smiling wanly. The chef, who serves only Dom Pérignon at his restaurant, traveled in May to the maison’s abbey in France to gain inspiration for the evening’s meal.
Chaperon explained to me how his brand and Japan are inextricably linked. “Japanese philosophy, precision, sophistication and character match our worldview, so coming together like this was an easy choice.”
Guests noshed on decadent cuisine courtesy of chef Narisawa.
The eight-course meal proved the point. Guests, including a who’s who of Michelin-starred chefs worldwide like Kyle Connaughton of Single Thread, Val Cantu of Californios, Richard Ekkebus of Amber and Maxime Gilbert of Ecriture, marveled over Narisawa’s journey through brilliant themes: Mountain (venison, magnolia leaf, miso, nuts and fruit); Forest (pigeon, sansho, green pepper); River (ayu, moss, bamboo grass); and Sea (seabass, rice, vinegar, Kuruma shrimp, scallop and langoustine). Narisawa emerged to take a bow, and guests gave him a well-deserved standing O for a culinary tour de force.
The forthcoming rosé vintage 2009—creamy on the palate with blackberries and raspberries on the nose—paired with each course. It’s a bottle that will stand the test of time, something the maison has perfected through the decades.
Dom Pérignon unveiled its rosé vintage 2009 in serious style.
Chaperon shared a story about a text message he just received from his daughter, extolling the virtues of Novak Djokovic, who had just won the 2023 French Open, and his vision since the age of 7 for being the best. “That’s something we identify with every day as winemakers,” said Chaperon. “As people, I always say there is no past and future. Everything is about the present. But as winemakers, we take this moment and generously borrow from the past for the future. We know this well at Dom Pérignon.”
Another thing Chaperon and his colleagues know well? How to throw one unforgettable summer soiree for the ages.