Dom Pérignon Oenothèque

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. $495 at Champagne Gallery.