Lafite Rothschild 1996
Tasting Notes Lafite Rothschild 1996
First tasted at the Farr horizontal in January 2003. Deeper than 1995. Nose is closed. Tobacco and wood with a touch of liquorice. Fine definition. Very concentrated palate - full-bodied. At an adolescent stage. Earthy/cigar-box notes. Quite austere on finish. Vin de garde. Very fine indeed. Then at the Lafite vertical in November 2005. Opaque purple/black colour. Just an incredible nose: blackberry, roasted herbs, pain grille all with brilliant definition. Absolutely stunning. The palate is very backward with firm, masculine tannins. Perfect acidity. Dense, earthy black fruits, minerals with a touch of black truffle developing. Incredible concentration and a perfect wine that marries power and finesse. Very complex. Brilliant, but a long-term wine. Leave it 10 years or more. Last tasted in September 2006 when it was just a little more herbaceous than I expected.
Tasted three times since bottling, the 1996 Lafite-Rothschild is unquestionably this renowned estate's greatest wine. As I indicated last year, only 38% of the crop was deemed grand enough to be put into the final blend, which is atypically high in Cabernet Sauvignon (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 7% Merlot, and 3% Petit Verdot). This massive wine may be the biggest, largest-scaled Lafite I have ever tasted. It will require many years to come around, so I suspect all of us past the age of fifty might want to give serious consideration as to whether we should be laying away multiple cases of this wine. It is also the first Lafite-Rothschild to be put into a new engraved bottle (designed to prevent fraudulent imitations). The wine exhibits a thick-looking, ruby/purple color, and a knock-out nose of lead pencil, minerals, flowers, and black currant scents. Extremely powerful and full-bodied, with remarkable complexity for such a young wine, this huge Lafite is oozing with extract and richness, yet has managed to preserve its quintessentially elegant personality. This wine is even richer than it was prior to bottling. It should unquestionably last for 40-50 years. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2050. The wine of the vintage?