Ferran Adria pops Dom Perignon's cork

Richard Geoffroy and Ferran Adrià

Richard Geoffroy and Ferran Adrià

If there's one thing Dom Pérignon does well (apart from making wine, of course) it's a power-collaboration. In 2013 the Champagne house joined forces with American artist Jeff Koons to launch a limited-edition vintage gift pack. This year, it has teamed up with Spanish chef Ferran Adrià to "decode Dom Pérignon".

Adrià's credentials in culinary circles might exceed even Koons' reputation in the art world. His Costa Brava restaurant El Bulli, which shot him to international fame, was renowned as a powerhouse of cutting-edge cooking - and as one of the hardest places to score a table in the world. Adrià closed its doors in 2011 and his moves since have been closely scrutinised by restaurant-watchers.

Today, he's back - but nowhere near the pans. Instead, he has launched El Bulli Foundation, an initiative to bring an in-depth (we're talking next-level depth here) understanding of food and drink to the gastronomic community.

At El Bulli Lab in Barcelona, where most of the research takes place, partitions are scrawled with handwritten notes and illustrations, the floors are piled with study material, and lines of string join together bites of information like an out-take from a this-guy's-a-genius montage in the movies.

"Our motto," Adrià says, "is feeding creativity."

The foundation breaks down gastronomy using a practice called "Sapiens" - a methodology of understanding things by studying the processes, as Adrià puts it. "How do you understand a tomato?" he asks. "How do you understand an iPhone?" You can bet that in Sapiens terms, the answer is nothing short of complex.

Dom Pérignon's partnership will see the Champagne house and El Bulli Foundation work together over three years to "truly understand and define what makes Dom Pérignon Dom Pérignon".

In the Dom corner of the lab, the team has dissected everything from the behaviour of the wine's plenitudes (that is, the sweet spots in the ageing of the wine) over time, to the engineering of its bottle. There are video installations, microscopic photography - they've even got a monitor displaying all of the brand's Twitter mentions in real time. And that's just three months' worth of work.

"We have to keep reinventing ourselves," says the winery's chef de cave Richard Geoffroy. "We felt at this stage of the history of Dom Pérignon we had to maybe think lateral through a third party and get the right methodology to have a better self-knowledge."

Is Sapiens the answer? You'll have to stay tuned till 2017 to find out.


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