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La Mission Haut Brion 1996

Subregion France > Bordeaux > Left Bank > Pessac-Léognan
Grape VarietyCabernet Sauvignon/Merlot/Cabernet Franc

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Tasting Notes

The 1996 La Mission Haut-Brion is an improvement on the previous vintage, though it remains a couple of steps behind the high point of the decade, which came two years later. This is quintessential 1996 Pessac, featuring scents of warm gravel and scorched earth on a nose that might be classic to some, but a bit dour to others with a penchant for more hedonistic wines. It’s a structured 1996, drier and more austere than the 1998, but there is good grip and delineation, if maybe just a little leafiness toward the finish. Over the years I have found a bit of bottle variation, and this example falls between the best and worst. Overall, I expected more given the vintage. Give this a couple of hours’ decanting. Tasted at the Vinous 1996 horizontal at Berry Brothers & Rudd. Drink between 2021-2040

Neal Martin, vinous.com, September 2021

Fully mature, with a big, fragrant bouquet of damp earth, weedy underbrush, asphalt, Asian soy, and ripe plums and cherries, this medium-bodied 1996 appears to be on a fast evolutionary track. It reveals plenty of delicious fruit, soft tannins and enough acidity to provide definition. I was surprised by how open-knit and mature this wine has become. Anticipated maturity: now-2020.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (202), August 2012

Healthy, shaded ruby. Smells strongly of cumin! Certainly attention-grabbing and distinctive... Sweet start to the palate and tannins well in retreat. Powerful, confident wine. Richer and more powerful than most. Drink 2004-14

Jancis Robinson MW, JancisRobinson.com, September 2006
Farr Vintners, 1996 Bordeaux Blind Tasting 8/9/2006, September 2006
Read more tasting notes...
Robert Parker, Bordeaux Book (4), December 2003
Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (122), April 1999

It is true vin de garde, displaying a dense, opaque ruby/purple color, and a tight but powerful personality, with reluctant aromatics. This rich wine cuts a deep, medium to full-bodied impression on the palate, and appears to need 7-8 years of cellaring. It is atypically backward for La Mission Haut-Brion, but the wine possesses exceptional depth, and the smoky, mineral, dried herb, rich, chocolatey, berry fruit that characterizes this brawny, muscular wine.

Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (115), February 1998
Please note that these tasting notes/scores are not intended to be exhaustive and in some cases they may not be the most recently published figures. However, we always do our best to add latest scores and reviews when these come to our attention. We advise customers who wish to purchase wines based simply on critical reviews to carry out further research into the latest reports.