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1996 Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan

SKU #110438 94 points John Gilman

Outer quote mark The 1996 Haut Brion is less hermetically sealed than the 1998, and is beginning to hint a bit at its secondary layers of aromatic complexity, though it still remains a very young wine. The bouquet is deep and classic, as it jumps from the glass in a mélange of black cherries, dark berries, Cuban tobacco, incipient notes of the black truffles to come, and a fine base of Graves earth. I assume that the 1996 saw the same amount of new oak as the 1998, but there is little sign of the wood at the present time. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and very intense, with a quite powerful profile for Haut Brion. The wine is rock solid at the core and very tannic, though the tannins are ripe and well-integrated into the wine. The finish is very, very long and soil-driven, and this will clearly be one of the most powerful vintages of Haut Brion to emerge since the 1959. It will be superb, but one will require plenty of patience. Inner quote mark (6/2007)

93 points Wine Spectator

Outer quote mark Gorgeous aromas of crushed berries, cigar box, black licorice and tanned leather. Full-bodied, with fine silky tannins and a medium to long finish. Seems a little tight right now. But refined and pretty. Nice for the vintage. (JS, Web—2007) Inner quote mark

92 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Outer quote mark It will be a potentially long-lived wine. The 1996 exhibits a deep ruby/purple color, and a surprisingly tight bouquet. With aeration, notes of fresh tobacco, dried herbs, smoke, asphalt, and black fruits emerge. It is tannic and medium-bodied, with outstanding purity and a layered, multidimensional style. However, the finish contains abundant tannin, suggesting that this wine needs 5-8 years of cellaring. (RP) Inner quote mark (4/1999)

92 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Outer quote mark Full ruby-red. Initially mute nose opened slowly to reveal complex aromas of raspberry, plum, hot stones, tobacco, saddle leather and toffee. Really explodes on the palate; lush and minerally, with a compelling note of woodsmoke and firm acidity. Wonderful combination of sweetness and vibrancy. Finishes very long and subtle, with firm tannins. (ST) Inner quote mark (6/1999)

91 points James Suckling

Outer quote mark Impressive nose of sweet tobacco with hints of prunes and black cherries. The palate is velvety, but it’s a little dull on the finish. Opens a little as the wine is in the glass. Served from imperial bottle. Inner quote mark (1/2011)

Jancis Robinson

Outer quote mark Looks more evolved than the Bahans. Wonderfully round and developed and subtle. More subtle than La Mission with a drier finish. Chewy end still there - and in with a fight. This does not seem to have fully unfurled yet and should make a great wine eventually. Putty and minerals. Still quite tight! 18.5/20 points (JR) Inner quote mark (2/2011)

K&L Notes

Chateau Haut-Brion is one of the five First Growth wines of Bordeaux, and the only one from Graves. Located on two hillocks, with gravel over clay and sand in Pessac for a classic Graves terroir, it consists of 51 hectares of mostly red varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot). It is the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux and was even served to Charles II! The estate is now owned and lovingly managed by the Dillon family, the royal family of Luxembourg. Neal Martin liked the 1996 even better in 2016: "While in some vintages La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion can be close in quality, that is not the case in this vintage. The 1996 Haut-Brion, a blend of 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc is clearly on a higher plane than the La Mission. There is something much more expansive and complete on the nose: greater depth of fruit, more harmonious with scents of underbrush, tar, black olive and this bottle perhaps less 'feral' than I have noticed on previous examples. The palate is very well balanced with dark cherries, sous-bois and cedar. This is one vintage where I think the Cabernet Franc plays an important role and lends more complexity. This is a 1996 that has retained and built upon beguiling fleshiness and it will continue to evolve with style and panache." (Wine Advocate, 10/2016)


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