1996 Jaboulet "La Chapelle" Hermitage
Much more expressive on the nose than the '97--and darker and thicker--adding to the evidence that '96 is a better vintage in the northern Rhône. Delivers a round, clean, pure mouthfeel of vibrant, focused red berry and blackberry flavors. Superb balance, as it walks a tightrope among the relatively high acidity, ripe tannins and delicious fruit. Worth cellaring.
What wonders lie beneath the surface of this tight-as-a-drum baby. Thick as a brick and barely revealing its charm now, this is a wine for the cellar. Monstrous oak is absorbed by the heft of the wine and enviable structure. Will almost certainly become brighter as the years go by.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 1996 Hermitage La Chapelle is immensely impressive. The acidity is high. The color is black/purple, and the wine is extremely concentrated, but unevolved and impossible to penetrate. It could turn out like the 1983 and never develop as well as its early promise suggests. Nevertheless, it is a massive effort with extraordinary concentration, but the high acidity requires a minimum of 10 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2025
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated ruby-red. Brooding aromas of cassis, spice and woodsmoke, along with port-like notes of chocolate and damp earth. Thick, silky and a bit roasted in the mouth, with chocolate and game flavors. Still in a rather oxidative phase, as this wine often is in the year or two following the bottling. But has the acidity and strong tannic structure for a long, slow evolution in bottle. Very long, chewy finish. (91+?)
Coolish year. Lots of structure. The Jaboulets argued that 1996 was better than 1995. Very healthy deep crimson. Deeper than 1999 and 2004! Tangy, meaty nose. Fully evolved nose - almost as though there's some reduced Mourvèdre here. Very promising until the rather dried-out end. The best Jaboulet of these three reds but it cuts off a bit on the finish. 17+/20 points. Drink to 2020.