1996 Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac

SKU #110439 100 points 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)  (4/1999)

96 points 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)  (8/2002)

95 points Wine Spectator

 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)

Jancis Robinson

 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  (2/2011)

K&L Notes

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."

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Price: $999.99
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Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the M├ędoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.


- When it comes to wine, France stands alone. No other country can beat it in terms of quality and diversity. And while many of its Region, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne most obviously, produce wine as rare, as sought-after and nearly as expensive as gold, there are just as many obscurities and values to be had from little known appellations throughout the country. To learn everything there is to know about French wine would take a lifetime. To understand and appreciate French wine, one only has to begin tasting them. Click for a list of bestselling items from all of France.


- View our bestselling Bordeaux.
Specific Appellation:


- Pauillac is probably the most famous village in Bordeaux. Located between St. Julien and St. Estephe, it has more of the top ranked chateau than the other four appellations of the Haut Medoc. This area has three of the five premier cru classe wineries: Lafite Rothschild, Latour, and Mouton Rothschild. There are two of the top second-growths (Pichon Lalande and Pichon Baron) as well as several outstanding fourth and fifth-growth chateaux including Lynch Bages. Because of the gravely soils and great drainage, Pauillac has the ideal conditions to grow great Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines from this village are some of the longest-lived in Bordeaux.