The 1996 has put on considerable weight and flesh since I first tasted it. 40% of the 1996 crop was declassified, but the quality of the Cabernet Franc (which often makes up 50%-60% of the final blend) was high. Yields were 30-35 hectoliters per hectare. This deep garnet/plum-colored Cheval Blanc offers a gorgeously exotic, sweet, smoky, coconut, menthol, jammy raspberry and blackberry-scented nose. Medium body, ripe fruit, outstanding concentration, and a succulent texture place this wine high up on the qualitive hierarchy. An intriguing coffee bean and chocolatey sweetness can be found in the wine's finish. This appears to be an impressive, savory, multidimensional Cheval Blanc that is growing in stature and weight as it ages in cask.