Haut Brion 1996
Tasting Notes Haut Brion 1996
I have a lot of time for the 1996 Haut-Brion, which was tasted twice in the same month (albeit 5,000 miles apart!) Here it has a gorgeous, quintessential Graves-like bouquet with superb intensity, expressive dark berried fruits, woodland, a touch of garrigues evolving with time (although not anis this time.) The palate is full-bodied with firm, solid tannins that do not obtrude the fruit. Masculine in style with dried herbs, sous-bois, cedar and black olive, then demonstrating outstanding length on the finish. Excellent. Tasted November 2011.
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. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2030.
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.