Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1996 Pauillac Bordeaux France
98 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate "The 1996 Lafite-Rothschild was remarkably deep in color considering that it is now 20 years in age. The bouquet is classic Pauillac with pencil shavings and sous-bois infusing the black fruit, masculine and a little aloof, yet focused and very well delineated. The palate is very well balanced with crisp blackberry and boysenberry fruit, spicier than I recollect, a crescendo of flavors so that it seems understated at first but fans out with a sense of confidence towards the finish. I think this still has more to give so cellar it away for another 5-8 years if you can, but otherwise this is an exemplary Lafite-Rothschild that I can envisage getting better and better in bottle, if not quite as enthralling as either Mouton-Rothschild or Château Margaux. Tasted July 2016. (NM)" (10/2016)
97 points James Suckling "The beauty and balance of this are phenomenal. Seamless tannins and fruit. Full body yet so balanced and refined. Sweet tobacco and berries. Minerals and cedar. A beautiful wine. The depth is superb. Drink now." (1/2017)
97 points Vinous "The 1996 Lafite-Rothschild is consistent with the bottle shown at the Hong Kong vertical. It has an intense bouquet with blackberry, cedar and a pencil box of graphite. The adjective I use whilst writing this note is that the aromas are "cool". Perhaps given its provenance, this is one of the most backward bottles of 1996 that I have tasted. There are those fine but rigid tannins that lend this Lafite such beguiling symmetry, copious cedar and graphite with vein of brine and oyster shell. I love the precision of this wine and the sappiness on the finish. At the moment, maybe more impressive than enjoyable, so if you can, cellar it for another 5 to 8 years. Tasted at the Lafite-Rothschild 150th anniversary dinner at the estate. 97+ (NM)" (7/2018)
96 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar "Full, deep ruby, by far the darkest of these vintages. Knockout nose of great precision: cassis, black cherry, lead pencil, licorice, dried herbs and mint. Densely packed and extremely unevolved; a powerfully structured wine with uncanny precision and penetration. Finishes with powerful, firm tannins and exceptional mounting persistence. An infant, but a great Northern Medoc '96 in the making. 96+ (ST)" (8/2002)
95 points Wine Spectator "Gorgeous aromas of currant, berries and licorice. Full-bodied, with supersilky tannins and a long, caressing finish. Still holding back. People talk about this as one of the greatest Lafites ever... (JS, Web-2007)"
Jancis Robinson "Looks (and tastes) SO much much younger and more purple than the Lafite 1995. Quite aromatic, very rich and ripe. Seductive. Very smooth. Almost formless for the tannins are well in retreat. Solid stuff that still has a way to go. Slightly inky. Much younger and more angular than the 1995. But it should come out of its shell very elegantly. 18.5/20 score" (2/2011)
83% Cabernet Sauvignon - 9% Merlot - 8% Petit Verdot
The growing season was excellent in 1996, with optimal conditions for the initial part of the growth cycle. August was then difficult, cold, and rainy; drenching the winegrowers’ spirits. Fortunately this was followed by a gloriously sunny September.
Tasting Notes at bottling: This vintage thus had three phases, which ultimately produced a rich, dense, structured, very complex wine. Some tasters find ’96 reminiscent of the elegance of ’53, and the power of ’59, which augurs well for this vintage that will undoubtedly improve with age for a very long time!