Antonio Galloni e gli Champagne 1996 - Checking In On The 1996 Champagnes


Ho trovato sulla rete la recensione di Antonio Galloni circa gli Champagne del fantastico millesimo 1996. E' tutto in inglese però penso che si capisca bene il succo del discorso. Leggiamo assieme.


Over the last few months I have had the chance to revisit a number of Champagnes from the celebrated 1996 vintage. My first retrospective on the 1996s, published last year, found many of the wines in great shape. Today, only a year later, a number of bottles are finally beginning to show hints of their ultimate potential. Many of these wines have been on the market for some time but only now, fourteen years after the harvest, is it possible to taste a complete range of the tête-de-cuvées from all of the major houses.

Once again I am completely floored by Krug’s Clos du Mesnil, which remains in my opinion the very finest wine to emerge from Champagne in 1996, and one of the greatest wines ever made in any region. The clarity, precision and focus of the fruit are simply breathtaking, while the overall sense of balance is phenomenal. The wine dances on the palate with the grace of a ballerina in a stunning display of class and elegance from start to finish. In a word: perfect. The estate’s 1996 Clos d’Ambonnay, has finally begun to emerge from the bracing acidity and powerful wall of structure that obscured the fruit when the wine was first released. The 1996 Ambonnay will ultimately develop into a broad-shouldered, expansive wine fully in the Krug house style, although it will require patience. It is strikingly pure in every way. Not to be forgotten is the 1996 Vintage, which is currently just as explosive and hedonistic as it has always been. It is truly a wine for the ages.

Bollinger’s 1996 Vielles Vignes Françaises is another Champagne that has developed beautifully in the last few years. Today it is nothing less than profound. Tasted several times next to Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay, also a pure 100% Pinot, the Vielles Vignes Françaises currently shows a touch more inner perfume, sweetness and depth in a rich, vinous style that is impossible to resist. Both wines are insanely beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous and utterly seductive. Wow! Today the edge goes to the Vielles Vignes Françaises for current pleasure. I am not sure how the 1996 will age, but I honestly can’t imagine it can possibly get better than it is right now. Today it is undoubtedly one of the wines of the vintage.

Billecart-Salmon’s 1996 Le Clos Saint-Hilaire has lost some of its youthful exuberance and the fruit now is a touch softer than it was a few years ago. The aromatics and overall balance remain seductive and utterly compelling. To gain perspective, I tasted this next to Bollinger’s Vielles Vignes Françaises and Krug’s Clos d’Ambonnay. The Clos Saint-Hilaire is the most delicate, ethereal of the three, while the VVF is the darkest and most brooding, purely vinous of the wines. The Clos d’Ambonnay stands out for its laser-like minerality and intensity. It is likely to be the longest-lived of these three Blanc de Noirs.

The 1996 Salon is yet another wine that is maturing splendidly. Once focused to the point of being painfully austere and angular, today the 1996 Salon has begun to soften and fill out. My latest bottles have been rich, generous and totally compelling in every way.

Both wines from Roederer are fantastic. Even though Cristal is typically very appealing upon release, the truth is that it needs serious cellaring to reveal its pedigree. Several recent bottles have been breathtaking. The aromatics, fruit and acidity are all beautifully woven together in this fabulous Cristal. The 1996 Cristal Rosé could turn out to be even better, in fact today it appears to be moving ahead of Cristal. The boisterous, exuberant fruit literally jumps out of the glass in a heady display of sheer class. Roses, flowers and minerals of all sorts are layered into a mousse of unbelievable elegance and polish.

Three 1996s from Dom Pérignon are special. After having compared original releases and Œnothèque bottlings across a number of vintages going back to 1964, I am increasingly of the belief that the most enjoyable Dom Pérignons are impeccably stored bottles of the original release. The 1996 Vintage is coming along quite nicely. Early notes of tertiary complexity have begun to appear, adding considerable richness and breadth. This remains a Champagne of fabulous elegance that will offer highly rewarding drinking for decades. The 1996 Dom Pérignon Rosé is simply off the charts. What a wine. The 1996 Rosé has begun to fill out rather dramatically. Today it is rich, powerful and totally seductive. The 1996 Dom Pérignon Œnothèque is pure, crystalline and noticeably dryer than the original release. This is all about minerality focus and drive. As fabulous as the 1996 Œnothèque is – and I have tasted it three times recently – I have a stylistic preference for the original release. Savvy readers should move quickly to snap up any remaining bottles of the original release that can still be found at a reasonable price.

Jacques Selosse’s 1996 Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs (disgorged December 1, 2005) is another wine that is positively singing today. In this context it is one of the warmer, richer Champagnes and stands out for its massive concentration. Roasted nuts, honey, flowers and spices add complexity on the finish. Compared to the wines from the large houses, this really makes a statement its bold, powerful personality. Much of the same can be said for Henri Giraud’s 1996 Fût de Chêne. Warm, smoky notes meld into an expressive core of fruit. The French oak contributes notable volume and depth, but is beautifully integrated. This is a fabulous bottle that is drinking beautifully right now.

The 1996 Dom Ruinart, tasted from magnum, is pretty, delicate and floral, very much in keeping with the house style. It shows plenty of 1996 vintage character, if not quite the pedigree of the finest wines. In exchange, it is one of the most open, and accessible Champagnes of the harvest. Philipponnat’s Clos des Goisses, from the April 2006 disgorgement, has begun to fill out its frame nicely, with the Pinot contributing significant breadth and volume on the palate. Warm roasted nuts, apricots and dried flowers are some of the notes that emerge from this large-scaled Clos des Goisses. The early signs of tertiary development are in the glass, making this another of the more accessible 1996s for current drinking. Unless the wine reaches a plateau where it remains for many years, recent tastings suggest the 1996 will not be an extraordinarily long-lived Clos des Goisses.

1996 Krug Clos du Mesnil 100
1996 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 97+
1996 Krug Vintage 98
1996 Bollinger Vielles Vignes Françaises 98
1996 Billecart-Salmon Le Clos Saint-Hilaire 96
1996 Salon 97+
1996 Roederer Cristal 96
1996 Roederer Cristal Rosé 97
1996 Moët et Chandon Dom Pérignon 97
1996 Moët et Chandon Dom Pérignon Rosé 97
1996 Moët et Chandon Dom Pérignon Œnothèque 96
1996 Jacques Selosse Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 96
1996 Henri Giraud Fût de Chêne 95
1996 Ruinart Dom Ruinart 94
1996 Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 93

Fonte: Antonio Galloni

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