The 1996 Chateau Margaux, a blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Cabernet Franc, must be a strong contender for wine of the vintage. It offers everything you desire from this First Growth. It is blessed with breathtaking delineation and freshness on the nose, understated at first and then blossoming with mineral-infused black fruit, hints of blueberry, crushed stone and violet. The palate is perfectly balanced with filigree tannin, perfect acidity, a wine where everything seems to be in its right place. Blackberry, crushed stone at the front of the mouth, just a touch of spice towards the finish that shows supreme control. This is a Margaux that seems to light up the senses. It was outstanding in its youth...something that has not changed one bit over the intervening two decades. This may well turn out to be the Left Bank pinnacle of the 1990s. Drink 2016-2050. Tasted July 2016.
The 1996 Château Margaux is undoubtedly one of the great classics produced under the Mentzelopoulos regime. In many respects, it is the quintessential Château Margaux, as well as the paradigm for this estate, combining measured power, extraordinary elegance, and admirable complexity. In short, it's a beauty! The colour is opaque purple. The wine offers extraordinarily pure notes of blackberries, cassis, toast and flowers, gorgeous sweetness, a seamless personality, and full body, with nothing out of place. The final blend(85%Cabernet Sauvignon, 10%Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc)contains the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon since 1986.This wine has shut down, yet the fruit remains exceptionally sweet and pure. Moreover, there are layers of flavour in the mouth and a surreal lightness/elegance in spite of the wine's obvious power and density. Is it capable of surpassing the quality of the 2000, 1995,1990,1986,1983,and 1982?Time will tell. Personally, I prefer the opulence and viscosity of the 1990 from a purely hedonistic standpoint, but I do believe this wine will develop an extraordinary perfume and possess the same level of richness as most concentrated vintages Margaux has produced. It is one of the strongest candidates for the wine of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2010-2045.
Tasted at Berry Bros 1996 '25 years on' supper in November, and also at the estate in June, this is unquestionably one of the finest 1996s that you can open right now. Softly spoken, finely-spun tannins that are still in control, setting off the white truffle, cured leather and smoked earth notes. This inches forward through the palate, slowly unwinding its raspberry and wild strawberry fruits, along with penoy and dried rose aroamtics. A stunning wine that is still giving so much pleasure. The team at the estate always say this is particularly special to them also - it was a late harves after a burst of rain at the end of September when many of their neighbours began to pick. They decided to wait, and were rewarded with beautifully ripe Cabernet that was tannic and a little surly at first, but that now proves the wisdom of holding your nerve. 100% new oak.
First bottle: Quite light rim. Suggestion of TCA. But very lively - very dry on the finish. Lots of exciting flavours though.
Second bottle: Minty sweet nose. Transparent. Chewy, dusty tannins. Slightly hot finish. Very pinched tannins on the finish. Drink 2008-18
THE 1996 Chateau Margaux, which was bottled in September 1998 is undoubtedly one of the great classics produced under the Mentzelopoulos regime. In many respects, it is the quintessential Chateau Margaux, as well as the paradigm for the estate, combining measured power, extraordinary elegance, and admirable complexity. I tasted the wine of three separate occasions in January, and in short, it’s a beauty! The colour is opaque purple. The wine offers extraordinary pure notes of blackberries, cassis, pain grillé, and flowers, gorgeous sweetness, a seamless personality, and full body with nothing out of place. The final blend (85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc) contains the highest percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon since the 1986. Both Corinne Mentzelopoulos and administrator Paul Pontallier claim they prefer it to 1995 which is saying something given how fabulous that wine has turned out. When tasted side by side, the 1996 does taste more complete and longer, although just as backward. My instincts suggest this wine will shut down, but at present it is open-knit, tasting like a recently bottled wine. The fruit is exceptionally sweet and pure, and there are layers of flavour in the mouth. I posed the question last year as to whether it was capable of surpassing the quality of the 1995, 1190, 1986, 1983, and 1982? Time will tell. Personally, I prefer the opulence and viscosity of the 1990 from a purely hedonistic standpoint, but I do believe this wine will develop an extraordinary perfume, and possess the same level of richness as the most concentrated vintages Margaux has produced. It is one of the strongest candidates for the wine of the vintage. Anticipated maturity: 2005-2040.
The 1996 is a modern day legend. This wine, a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot, achieved a natural alcohol of nearly 13%. The wine's acidity is low, largely because the estate harvested the Cabernet Sauvignon extremely late, not completing the harvest until mid-October. The wine, which was the single greatest wine I tasted from the 1996 vintage in Spring 1997, continues to give every indication of being one of the all-time great clarets from this renowned wine region. The dense opaque purple colour possesses a thick, unctuous texture. The nose offers celestial aromas of cassis, vanillan, and intriguing blackberry and floral scents in the background. Despite ageing in 100% new oak, the fruit dominates the wine, with the oak offering a minor background nuance. In the mouth, this wine is massive, but not heavy, with extraordinary richness, perfect precision and equilibrium, an opulent texture and remarkably well-integrated tannin, acidity and alcohol. Revealing dazzling sweetness at present, the 1996 may be the finest Chateau Margaux I have tasted in the 2 decades I have been visiting this property.Can it surpass the quality of the 1990, 1986, 1983 and 1982, not to mention the fabulous 1995? Anticipated maturuty: 2006-2040. Last tasted 3/98.