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1996 Cantemerle, Haut-Médoc

SKU #110435 93 points John Gilman

 I was not travelling to Bordeaux back when the 1996s were first displayed, and my primary business at this time in the wine trade was not young claret, so I do not have anywhere near as much tasting experience with the young ‘96s as I do with the 1995 vintage. Consequently, I am always happy to cross paths with wines from this year, which is clearly very, very strong on the Left Bank. The 1996 Cantemerle is outstanding, offering up a deep and very vibrant bouquet of cassis, dark berries, cigar ash, gravelly soil tones, incipient notes of chipotles and a deft base of new vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and classically balanced, with a rock solid core, fine focus and grip, blossoming refinement and excellent length on the tangy and still fairly chewy finish. This wine is going to be excellent, but it is still at least six or seven years away from primetime drinking. (Drink between 2020-2060)  (7/2014)

Jancis Robinson

 Magnum. Tasted blind. Looks quite mature ruby. Really mature and fun. Fresh fruit and not too much obvious tannin. Just very slightly austere.  (11/2018)

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 I had hoped this wine would turn out closer to outstanding, but it is an excellent Cantemerle, if not quite as stunning as I had expected. The wine offers a dark ruby color, and a sweet nose of black raspberries, subtle new oak, and acacia smells. There is fine sweetness and solid tannin in this elegant, symmetrical wine. It is more forward and lighter than it was from cask, but it is a stylish example of Cantemerle. (RP)  (4/1999)

K&L Notes

This is one of K&L's top picks for value-of-the-vintage. Fabulous nose, rich deep flavors, value-priced considering the quality. And we weren't the only ones who liked it. Forbes raved about the 1996 bottling and explained why it's such a value: "Not a great Bordeaux name, it is nonetheless a quintessential Bordeaux wine, displaying all the characteristics that make this area so special. It is a fifth growth situated just outside the boundary of the famous Margaux commune. This is unfortunate for them as it means it is entitled to only the less prestigious Haut-Medoc appellation–but fortunate for us consumers because it doesn’t command the price it would as a Margaux while possessing many of the qualities of it’s famous neighbor. In fact it’s a quintessential claret, a polished and refined wine that has the velvety smoothness of good Bordeaux, especially Margaux, without the vanilla oakyness that many California producers use to imitate this effect. There’s a nice earthy nose followed by a plumy, opulent richness with good structure and plenty of backbone. It has more depth and complexity than you would expect in one so young, yet is almost an indulgent wine, luscious and sensual in its appeal." (5/2002)

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Price: $59.99
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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 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.


- 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.