1996 Haut-Bailly, Pessac-Léognan

SKU #110372 92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 Tasted at the château, the 1996 Haut Bailly is a blend of 58% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Franc. It has an attractive bouquet with blackcurrant pastilles, briary, a touch of gravel and dried orange peel. As I commented a few years ago, this is a 1996 that is not as immediate as others, but seems to find its voice with time. The palate is medium-bodied with a soy-tinged opening. This is well balanced and quite rounded in the mouth, quite masculine and perhaps having dispensed with some of the freshness and vitality that it showed in numerous tastings in the previous decade. There is a noticeable salinity here, lending it a marine-like finish with black olive on the aftertaste: a highly enjoyable Haut-Bailly, perchance one soon to reach the end of its plateau? Whatever -- I like where this is at now. Tasted July 2016. (NM)  (10/2016)

90 points Jeb Dunnuck

 The 1996 Haut Bailly is about as classic as they come and shows the more focused, elegant style of this vintage nicely. Cedarwood, lead pencil shavings, tobacco leaf and plenty of earthy dark fruits emerge from this medium-bodied, fresh, balanced, textbook Pessac that’s drinking at point today. It should last for another 15-20 years.  (12/2017)

90 points Wine Spectator

 Shows wonderful berry, tobacco and vanilla character, is full- to medium-bodied, with velvety tannins and a mineral, spice aftertaste. Next to Haut-Brion, this is the wine from Pessac. (JS)  (1/1999)

Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

 Deeper red-ruby. Quite withdrawn on the nose today; hints at roasted plum and Cuban cigar tobacco. Intensely flavored but firm and tight; sound acids and a solid tannic spine make this difficult to taste today. Finishes with a minty nuance. 'In a period of somnolence,' says Veronique Sanders. (ST)  (6/1999)

K&L Notes

This big wine will reward the patient collector. Since 1982 Haut-Bailly has been making outstanding wines and the 1996 is no exception. The vintage has a little added muscle, but is still characteristically elegant.

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Price: $139.99

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Additional Information:

Varietal:

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 Médoc 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.
Country:

France

- 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.
Sub-Region:

Bordeaux

Specific Appellation:

Pessac-Leognan/Graves

- Graves is the large red and white wine region located to the southeast of the city of Bordeaux along the Garonne River. Cabernet Sauvignon dominates the red wines from the area, while the whites are mixtures of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. The most important area within the Graves is the village of Pessac-Leognan. Most of the great chateaux, including Haut Brion, a premier cru and the only wine outside of the Medoc to be included in the 1855 Classification, are located in this small appellation. Graves derives its name from the rocky, stony terrain of the region. Many people believe that the stony soil radiates the day's heat at night and thus makes the grapes ripen earlier than the other regions in Bordeaux.