1996 - Ch Haut Brion 1er Cru Pessac-Léognan
Colour
Red
Producer
Château Haut-Brion
Region
Pessac-Léognan
Grape
Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc
Drinking
2009 - 2030
Case size
12x75cl
Available Now

1996 CH HAUT BRION 1ER CRU PESSAC-LÉOGNAN - 12x75cl

Colour
Red
Producer
Château Haut-Brion
Region
Pessac-Léognan
Grape
Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc
Drinking
2009 - 2030
Case size
12x75cl
Available Now
Duty Paid (Inc. VAT)
Case price £5,180.14 (Inc. VAT)
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Tasting Notes

  • RP2

    Robert Parker, April 1997,
    Score: 92-94

    Haut-Brion, which utilized 60% of its production in 1996, is a blend of 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Cabernet Franc. Haut-Brion's talented administrator, Jean Delmas, was more pessimistic about his 1996 than the brilliant 1995 or 1994. Yet after tasting the 1996 several times, I don't think he has anything to worry about. The 1996 is a less flattering, more structured, and more obviously tannic wine than the 1994 or 1995, but it is impressively sweet, rich, and medium to full-bodied. This chateau's glorious perfume is somewhat hidden, but with coaxing, the wine develops beautifully. It exhibits a dense purple color, and a sweet nose of smoke, vanilla, lead pencil, earth, and cassis fruit. Deep, full-bodied, and tannic (ripe and round as opposed to astringent), this will be another terrific Haut-Brion that will require, atypically, 10-12 years of cellaring; it will last for 2-3 decades. Initially, I found it to be reminiscent of the 1986 Haut-Brion, but the wine reveals more sweetness and ripeness of fruit at this stage than the 1986 possessed. If the 1996 fleshes out, it will come close to equaling the splendidly opulent, complex, unctuously-textured 1995. Drink: 2007-2027. P.S. The 1996 Bahans-Haut-Brion shares a similar, more structured character. It looks to be another excellent second wine from this estate. The color is dark ruby, and the wine is medium-bodied, sweet, rich, and already revealing some of the evolved complexity of the Haut-Brion terroir. It will merit a rating in the upper-eighties when released.

  • RP1

    Robert Parker, February 1998,
    Score: 95-96

    As I indicated last year, Haut-Brion utilized only 60% of its production in the 1996 final blend (50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc). While it is undoubtedly true that the appellations of Pessac-Leognan and Graves were less successful in 1996 than the Medoc, the wines produced under the administration of Jean Delmas (i.e., Haut-Brion, La Mission-Haut-Brion, and La Tour-Haut-Brion) are brilliant in the 1996 vintage, continuing a trend that has made Haut-Brion one of the most consistent first-growths in Bordeaux (consider the superlative performances in such difficult vintages as 1993, 1992, and 1987). The 1996 Haut-Brion has put on weight, and was even sweeter and more fragrant in November than it was earlier in the year. The wine exhibits a dark ruby color with purple nuances. Haut-Brion's signature is most frequently its glorious perfume of tobacco, black fruits, smoke, and dried herbs, combined with sweet, supple fruit, all crammed into a concentrated wine that never has the weight or tannic power of a Medoc, or the thick unctuosity of a top right bank wine. As I have frequently written, the one significant change to my palate over the last twenty years has been the fact that while I have always admired Haut-Brion, now I am addicted to its perfume and complexity. It is never the biggest of the first-growths, but it is usually among the most compelling wines of this elite group, with the most profound set of aromatics of any of its peers. That being said, the 1996 should turn out to be an exquisite wine, perhaps slightly more structured and backward than the superb 1995, but very rich, with gobs of smoky, cherry, tobacco-tinged fruit, medium body, exceptional purity and equilibrium, and a long, moderately tannic finish. The tannins taste extremely sweet. Anticipated maturity: 2004-2030.

  • RP

    Robert Parker, April 1999,
    Score: 92

    The backward 1996 Haut-Brion was bottled in July, 1998. Even administrator Jean Delmas was surprised by how closed it was when I tasted it in January. Only 60% of the crop was utilized in the final blend, which was 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Cabernet Franc. Out of barrel, this wine exhibited far more forthcoming aromatics as well as a sweeter mid-palate than it revealed from bottle. I had expected it to be more forward, and thus slightly down-graded the wine, although I am thrilled to own it and follow what appears to be a slow evolution. 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 ... but reluctantly. 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. Drink 2008-2030

  • JR

    Jancis Robinson, Sept 2011,
    Score: 18.5

    50% Merlot, 11% Cabernet Franc, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon. 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! Drinking dates 2012-2030

  • CC

    Clive Coates, June 2001,
    Score: 19/20

    Full colour. Lovely fragrant nose. This is very profound and very classy. Very lovelyfruit. Full body. Excellent grip. Very elegant and complex on the follow-through.Splendidly subtle and long and intense. Very splendid, long, lingering finish. Very fineindeed. Drink 2008-2040

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Producer

Château Haut-Brion

Arguably the oldest recognised Bordeaux grand cru, Haut Brion has been owned by the American Dillon family since 1935. The Château was an early moderniser - the first estate to implement steel vats in 1961 - and over the years, their incredible investments have re-established the inherent quality of this property, enabling it to emerge as possibly the most consistent first growth since the 1980s. Situated in Pessac-Léognan in Graves, the estate is the only classified growth located outside the Médoc. Château Haut Brion has the most Merlot and the most Cabernet Franc of any of the First Growths and the second wine is Bahans Haut Brion.

Region

Pessac-Léognan

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.