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Professional Ratings: 99 Wine Enthusiast, 97 The Wine Advocate, 96 Wine Spectator, 96 Wine & Spirits
Region: Champagne, France
Varietal: Vintage Sparkling Wine
Other Info: Collectible Wines, Great Wine Gift
Item no. 109179
The year was full of contrasts and the summer changeable, with the wetter periods never quite making up for the earlier hydric deficit. Eventually, in the month before grapepicking (16 September), it was as much the spells of hot weather as the influence of north-easterly winds that led to the original maturity of the vintage.
On The nose the wine displays praline, which rapidly combines with citrus and dried figs. Darker underlying iodine and peaty notes also emerge.
On the palate There is an apparent paradox, with concentration and movement vying for ascendancy. The structure of the wine is tense and assertive. Its energy, almost tactile, is contained for a moment before vibrating and exploding. Its opulence then becomes superbly persistent, trenchant and persuasive.
A magnificent Champagne, one that is light, delicate, yet packed with character. It is beautifully balanced, with a bone-dry character, just softened by the toastiness that is developing. Expect this to age for many years.
The 1996 Dom Perignon Oenotheque offers up layers of pastry, lemon, smoke and toastiness. At first deceptively understated, the wine turns positively explosive and layered on the palate, showing remarkable tension, elegance and power, all wrapped around a seriously intense frame. The balance between fruit and acidity is awesome. This is a marvelous DP Oeno. The Oeno is the same juice as the regular Dom Perignon, except the Oeno is aged on the cork while the regular DP is aged in crown-sealed bottles. Once disgorged, the Oenos gets a slightly lower dosage than is typical for the original release DP. This bottle was disgorged in 2008. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2026.
The Brut Cuvée Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 1996 ($350) will debut in July. Its complexity was immediately apparent on the bouquet, offering butterscotch, toast and mineral elements. An extremely well-balanced '96, without the high-acid profile of the vintage, the flavors evoked candied citrus, seashore and smoke, reminding me of a great Corton-Charlemagne (96, non-blind).
This transforms the violent power of 1996 into a supple and succulent wine, holding the masculine tension of the vintage while yielding more delicate complexities: orange peel, cedar, ginger, tobacco. The wine's refinement is extraordinary, the sumptuous richness girded into a gentle, sunny finish that lives in the memory after lingering for minutes on the lips. A youthful classic that shows no signs of its 16 years of age, this should live for decades.