This wine possesses a considerable amount of Cabernet Franc, resulting in a medium-bodied, elegant, stylish wine with a dark ruby/purple color, plenty of finesse and complexity in the nose, and good density and richness on the palate. The overall emphasis is on complexity and style presented in a pure, medium-bodied format. The 1996 La Tour-Haut-Brion will be drinkable in 4-5 years, and will last for 15 or more. Last tasted 11/97. Drink: 2001-2012.
La Tour-Haut-Brion's 1996 is an aromatic, surprisingly evolved wine for the vintage with a dark plum color, and a pronounced, smoky, cassis, weedy, dried herb-scented bouquet. A medium-bodied, classic, mid-weight Bordeaux, with plenty of spice, sweet fruit, elegance and complexity, it is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Cabernet Franc. It should provide delicious drinking early, and last for a decade. Drink: 1999-2009.
Along with the 1995, this is one of the strongest efforts I have tasted of La Tour-Haut-Brion since the property was acquired by the Dillon family, and the wines made by the administrator of Haut-Brion, Jean Delmas. The 1996 La Tour-Haut-Brion displays a distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated nose of cedar, fruitcake, spice, and black currants. The wine possesses excellent richness, a fat mid-palate, and surprising lushness and ripeness. The high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon now used at this estate is evident in this attractive, medium-weight wine that should drink well during its first 10-15 years of life. This is a seductive example of La Tour-Haut-Brion.
Mature rim and ruby middle. Powerfully aromatic with tannins fully evolved on the palate. Already an attractive drink even if a bit chunky and very very slightly green notes. Medium weight.
Cedar and vanilla, with plum and chocolate character. Medium-bodied, with slightly angular tannins and a medium finish. A little diluted.--'95/'96 Bordeaux retrospective. Drink now. -JS
Stretching from the rather unglamorous southern suburbs of Bordeaux, for 50 km along the left bank of the river Garonne, lies Graves. Named for its gravelly soil, a relic of Ice Age glaciers, this is the birthplace of claret, despatched from the Middle Ages onwards from the nearby quayside to England in vast quantities. It can feel as though Bordeaux is just about red wines, but some sensational white wines are produced in this area from a blend of sauvignon blanc, Semillon and, occasionally, muscadelle grapes, often fermented and aged in barrel. In particular, Domaine de Chevalier is renowned for its superbly complex whites, which continue to develop in bottle over decades. A premium appellation, Pessac-Leognan, was created in 1987 for the most prestigious terroirs within Graves. These are soils with exceptional drainage, made up of gravel terraces built up in layers over many millennia, and consequently thrive in mediocre vintages but are less likely to perform well in hotter years. These wines were appraised and graded in their own classification system in 1953 and updated in 1959, but, like the 1855 classification system, this should be regarded with caution and the wines must absolutely be assessed on their own current merits.