Dom Perignon Oenotheque 1996
Vintage Sparkling Wine from Champagne, France
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.
Wine Enthusiast - "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 Wine Advocate - "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. "
Wine Spectator - "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)."
Wine & Spirits - "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."
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Dom Perignon Winery
Dom Pérignon, a seventeeth-century cellarmaster of the Abbey of Hautvillers, is revered as the spiritual father of winemaking in the Champagne region. Keen observation, respect for nature, pragmatic creativity, technical innovation, the courage of his convictions, and patience were the instruments serving his vision. He constantly mastered and incorporated all its components and the stages of its production, from the vineyards themselves to the pressing and clarification of the wines and their preservation.
Dom Pérignon was the originator of new techniques for cultivating vines and making wine. These innovations spread rapidly throughout the region.
Today, Dom Pérignon is produced by France's largest Champagne house, Moët et Chandon. Dom Pérignon’s principle contribution in the 20th century has been its commitment to vintage years. In addition to the exclusive use of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes from only the finest growths and vineyards, Dom Pérignon strictly limits itself to wines of the very best years, which have undergone long ageing.
The Dom Pérignon style is constructed by the Chef de Cave to create a range of sensations on the palate that reflect all the complexity of the structure, and the aromas and characteristics of the vintage. View all Dom Perignon Wines
About ChampagneView a map of Champagne wineries Champagne is both a region and a method. The wines come from the northernmost vineyards in France and the name conjures an image like no other can. An 18th Century Benedictine monk named Dom Perignon is said to be the first to blend both varietals and vintages, making good wines not only great, but also special and unique to their winemaker. Today, nearly 75% of Champagne produced is non-vintage and made up by a blend of several years' harvests.
All Champagnes must be made by a strictly controlled process called "Méthode Champenoise." The grapes are pressed and fermented for the first time. The blending phase follows and the wine is bottled and temporarily capped. Then comes the second fermentation, a blend of sugar and yeast is added and, this time, the carbon dioxide is kept inside the bottle. This process leaves a great deal of sediment that is extracted through a process of "racking" or "riddling." The bottles are progressively turned upside down until all the sediment is collected in the neck. The necks are then frozen and the sediment is "disgorged." After this phase, the winemaker may decide to add sugar to sweeten the wine. Finally the wine is corked. Some wines move through this process in a couple of months, while others are aged after the riddling phase to build greater complexity and depth.
Champagnes range from dry, "Brut," to slightly sweet, "Demi-Sec." Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes are used in Champagne blends, but "Blancs de Noirs" is made entirely of Pinot Noir and "Blancs de Blanc" is made from only Chardonnay grapes. The high acidity achieved by the northern location is crucial to the balance and structure of these wines.
Not every year is a "vintage" declared. In years when it is not, the wines are blended with the produce from other years to create the non-vintage blend, the house style that remains constant from year to year. But in a great vintage year, champagne houses will bottle by itself the unblended year's produce, and use other portions as "reserve" wines to supplement and enrich the non-vintage blend. A vintage champagne can age quite gracefully, and gain complexity just like any other great still wine.
Mild cheeses like gruyere and shellfish pair nicely with Champagne. Also, oysters and Champagne is a popular combination. A full-flavored vintage Champagne can go with almost any meal.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.