1996 Robert Mondavi "Reserve" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Herb, currant and tea scents turn supple and elegant on the palate, picking up a complex note of tar and mineral. Gains depth and richness on the finish and still has firm tannins. Easily the best of three bottles.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve may be no better than the Oakville, but it is made in a slightly different style. The color is opaque purple, and the wine reveals more vanillin, a touch of mint, and plenty of black currant fruit in its moderately intense aromatics. Some of the vintage's dry tannin (from this year's stressed vineyard conditions) is present in the wine's finish. A more stylish, restrained, less exuberant example than the 1996 Oakville, it is an outstanding offering that should be consumed between 2002-2025.
Deep ruby-red. Explosive, somewhat feral, highly aromatic nose of cassis, roast coffee, game, smoky oak and chocolate; shows a very strong torrefaction aspect. Lush, rich and deep; has a pliancy and degree of early personality I find in only the very best young California cabernets. Subtle notes of chocolate and tobacco contribute to the wine appeal. Finishes fairly tannic but very long. Distinctly more layered than the '95.
The 30th-anniversary bottling. Sweet and scented and fragrant and pretty lean but very fine and appetising. Not unlike a bordeaux 1996. Dusty finish. Drink 2010-2020.