Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 is not only one of the greatest Dom Pérignons of all, ranking among the top few champagnes on the shelves this year, but it’s on the rise. Scoring it 99 points on its release in 2011, I wrote, ‘Most profound of all, it’ll get even better’. This year, impossibly, fresher still, a perfect 100. Oenothèque 1996 is almost completely devoid of time evolution. Never have I tasted a champagne of this age of such sheer energy, drive and acid tension. Alongside 2004, 2003 and 1990, this was the palest wine on the table, achingly youthful in its lemon blossom breath. In the ultimate contradiction, there is an airy lightness to its finesse, drawn out with a high-strung poise that belies the dehydrated concentration and low ripeness that marked this bizarre and inimitable vintage. Its mineral texture is an epiphany, dancing with fairy lightness on a stage of solid chalk. Dom Pérignon absolutely, finally and resoundingly silences the question on the lips of critics and connoisseurs for the past 17 years: Will the perfect 10/10 season of 1996 (10g/L acidity and 10 degrees of potential alcohol) ever find balance between its intoxicating concentration and its searing acidity? It will and, my goodness, it has. Richard Geoffroy believes it will live forever. This time, I’m a believer. 100 points, tysonstelzer.com
Such high-strung energy, drive and acid tension – this is almost completely devoid of time evolution. Achingly youthful, dancing with fairy lightness on a stage of solid chalk. Resounding proof that the intoxicating concentration and searing acidity of 1996 can find harmony. Drink to 2046. 100 points, Decanter (2016).
…a brilliant Champagne. Richly textured, perfectly toasted… Elegant and precise but with layers of lemon curd creaminess that adds to the impressive complexity on display. This is 20 years old but still almost impossibly vibrant and fresh, and has many years ahead of it. 98 points, Decanter (2016).
Located 150 km east of Paris, Champagne is the French wine region renowned for producing the finest, most rich and complex sparkling wines in the world. The elegance, longevity and racy acidity of these wines are attributed to the influence of the chalky soils of the region and the cool, marginal continental climate. The region spans an area of 35,000 ha and has 4 main growing areas, each favouring one of the three noble Champagne varieties; Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. Champagne has a vineyard quality hierarchy based on the soils, aspect and overall quality of the grapes. Like Burgundy, these quality designations are allocated to the vineyards of the village. Of the 319 villages of Champagne, 17 have Grand Cru status and 44 villages are designated Premier Cru. All Champagne is produced by Traditional Method. The vast majority of Champagne is a blend of the three varieties and may also be a blend of several vintages producing the popular Non Vintage (NV) house styles. Top quality blends from exceptional years are sold as Vintage (Millésime) Champagne.