1996 Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Tasted three times since bottling, the 1996 Lafite-Rothschild is unquestionably this renowned estate's greatest wine... This massive wine may be the biggest, largest-scaled Lafite I have ever tasted. It will require many years to come around, so I suspect all of us past the age of fifty might want to give serious consideration as to whether we should be laying away multiple cases of this wine. It is also the first Lafite-Rothschild to be put into a new engraved bottle (designed to prevent fraudulent imitations). The wine exhibits a thick-looking, ruby/purple color, and a knock-out nose of lead pencil, minerals, flowers, and black currant scents. Extremely powerful and full-bodied, with remarkable complexity for such a young wine, this huge Lafite is oozing with extract and richness, yet has managed to preserve its quintessentially elegant personality. This wine is even richer than it was prior to bottling. It should unquestionably last for 40-50 years. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050. The wine of the vintage? (RP)
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Full, deep ruby, by far the darkest of these vintages. Knockout nose of great precision: cassis, black cherry, lead pencil, licorice, dried herbs and mint. Densely packed and extremely unevolved; a powerfully structured wine with uncanny precision and penetration. Finishes with powerful, firm tannins and exceptional mounting persistence. An infant, but a great Northern Medoc '96 in the making. 96+ (ST)
Gorgeous aromas of currant, berries and licorice. Full-bodied, with supersilky tannins and a long, caressing finish. Still holding back. People talk about this as one of the greatest Lafites ever... (JS, Web-2007)
Looks (and tastes) SO much much younger and more purple than the Lafite 1995. Quite aromatic, very rich and ripe. Seductive. Very smooth. Almost formless for the tannins are well in retreat. Solid stuff that still has a way to go. Slightly inky. Much younger and more angular than the 1995. But it should come out of its shell very elegantly. 18.5/20 score
Additional comments from Robert Parker: "...As I indicated last year, only 38% of the crop was deemed grand enough to be put into the final blend, which is atypically high in Cabernet Sauvignon (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot)." (04/99) 97-99 points Neal Martin's Wine Journal: "First tasted at the Farr horizontal in January 2003. Deeper than 1995. Nose is closed. Tobacco and wood with a touch of liquorice. Fine definition. Very concentrated palate - full-bodied. At an adolescent stage. Earthy/cigar-box notes. Quite austere on finish. Vin de garde. Very fine indeed. Then at the Lafite vertical in November 2005. Opaque purple/black colour. Just an incredible nose: blackberry, roasted herbs, pain grille all with brilliant definition. Absolutely stunning. The palate is very backward with firm, masculine tannins. Perfect acidity. Dense, earthy black fruits, minerals with a touch of black truffle developing. Incredible concentration and a perfect wine that marries power and finesse. Very complex. Brilliant, but a long-term wine. Leave it 10 years or more. Last tasted in September 2006 when it was just a little more herbaceous than I expected."