1996 Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(77% cabernet sauvignon, 13% merlot and 10% cabernet franc; pH 3.85; IPT 73; 12.7% alcohol; 83% new oak): Bright ruby with a palish rim. Intense, fragrant aromas of strawberry, iris, coffee, white pepper and bay leaf are lifted by an aromatic spice note; one can recognize the cabernet franc here. Rich, dense and suave, with very pure red fruit, cedar and herb flavors that coat the palate and are nicely carried by vibrant, harmonious acidity. Finishes with outstanding length, noble tannins and a late spicy, floral kick. This outstanding Mouton has improved enormously since its release. Tourbier agrees: 'We were a little worried initially that this Mouton seemed too rigid, almost austere. Instead, it did a complete turnaround once bottled, surprising us as well.'
Incredible nose of ultraripe fruit, it's yet subtle and complex. Full-bodied, with very ripe, almost sweet fruit and a long, long caressing finish. Superb. This is edging out the 1995. (Web 2007)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
This estate's staff believes that the 1996 Mouton-Rothschild is very complex. I agree that among the first-growths, this wine is showing surprising forwardness and complexity in its aromatics. It possesses an exuberant, flamboyant bouquet of roasted coffee, cassis, smoky oak, and soy sauce. The impressive 1996 Mouton-Rothschild offers impressive aromas of black currants, framboise, coffee, and new saddle leather. This full-bodied, ripe, rich, concentrated, superbly balanced wine is paradoxical in the sense that the aromatics suggest a far more evolved wine than the flavors reveal. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2030. By the way, the 1996 blend consists of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 8% Cabernet Franc.
This is the wine that Jean-Marc Quarin wrote about at length in relation to decanting it. This bottle was opened an hour before tasting. Very dark crimson with a little more sign of evolution than the 1995. Solid meat extract sort of nose -- very much a notch up from the Clerc Milon and Armailhac. Very concentrated. Quite refined tannins and lovely savour. Worth waiting for, I think, and Philippe Dalhuin is convinced that it needs some aeration before serving. It is pretty solid but there is lots there. 18/20 points.