Richard Geoffroy, Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave (head winemaker), the man responsible for the masterful execution of every single sparkling bottle corked by the legendary Champagne house since 1990, is handing over the baton to his protégé and worthy successor, Vincent Chaperon.
The momentous announcement, made at the release of Dom Pérignon’s 2008 vintage, a wine already being touted as one of the finest of all-time, marks the beginning of a new era, at once fiercely mindful of the brand’s legacy and sharply focused on its evolution. You may read an insightful Cool Hunting interview with Mr. Geoffroy and learn more about the transition here.
Manina World has had the pleasure to host two Montreal events in honor of Mr. Geoffroy. The first, held in 2012, remains one of the simplest, yet more challenging and nerve-wracking productions of our then-young company. Stressful because it was, well, Dom Pérignon and Mr. Geoffroy. Challenging because the previous such event, just before ours, had taken place in the regal surroundings of Palais de Versailles, in France, under the supervision of Michelin-starred chef, Alain Passard, a French living treasure. Those familiar with the history of Montreal are aware that the only kings to ever rule here were the Gypsy ones, that the city is not listed by the Michelin guide, and that the closest palace we have in town is approximately the size of Versaille’s servant quarters without the luxury.
The question was: “How do we top that?”
It took all of a minute to conclude that we wouldn’t top that. The approach would have to be radically different. And radical it was.
The yearly event, entitled Dark Revelation, is traditionally a magnificent banquet of royal proportions, where Mr. Geoffroy introduces personally the year’s vintage to VIP clients, select guests and media. Under the artistic direction of Manina’s Mabel Palomino, it was decided that the 2012 Montreal dinner would be the antithesis of Versailles.
In the place of opulence, there would be nothing but darkness.
Dark Revelation would be held in a black room, with only subtle light accents evocative of the colors of the brand. The focus would be exclusively on the food and on the main attraction: the taste of Dom Pérignon’s champagne.
On D-Day, VIP guests were given rendezvous at a shady remote location. Just when they were starting to get jittery, limousines pulled up and kindly urged each guest to allow themselves to be blindfolded. They were driven to a secret place and led through a doorway, whereupon their sight was restored. They found themselves in a sensual dark environment, filled with the sounds of a classical piano, served canapés by hooded figures whose faces had been covered by black masks.
At the appointed time, guests were ominously escorted through a curtained passage into a massive banquet room, where a long black table for 30 had been meticulously set. On cue, the food parade began, each plate to be accompanied by matching lighting accents and moody musical performances by mysterious artists.
Created by Montreal chefs, John Zoumis and Marcel Larrea, whose groundbreaking modern Peruvian restaurants are recognized among the best in the city, and under the conceptual guidance of Manina’s food director, Fede Sanchez, the evening’s menu was a succession of intriguing and utterly delicious Latino-Asian-inspired plates, designed to complement the champagne to perfection, with one single element in common: an uncommon ingredient.
Aware of the well-traveled pedigree of Dom Pérignon’s guests and of Mr. Geoffroy’s familiarity with the world’s finest restaurants, the Manina culinary team set out to surprise with the use of an exotic ingredient in each dish that would titillate the curiosity and taste buds of all present, from fruity peppers from the Amazon river basin to award-winning cheeses from remote Spanish islands.
At the culmination of the event, Mr. Geoffroy dissipated all our remaining Versailles concerns and paid Manina one of the greatest compliments of its eventful history. “This night was simply magnificent,” he said. “Everything you did served one purpose: to showcase the beauty of our wine. No distractions. Pure focus and excellent food and sensorial pairings. Thank you.”
We still keep the letter sent by Dom Pérignon, thanking us for a job performed with excellence, and the bottles autographed by Mr. Geoffroy. It was a tremendous boost of confidence for our young company by a legacy brand and its most important personality.
Here’s to Richard Geoffroy and to his success at whatever he may undertake next. Thank you for 28 years of some the greatest wines ever crafted.
Take a trip down memory lane and watch a video of Dom Pérignon’s 2012 Dark Revelation by Manina