The 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Monte Bello (80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 9% Petit Verdot that reached 13.4% alcohol) represents a severe selection of only 40% of the vineyard's crop. A blockbuster, powerful, concentrated Monte Bello, it possesses an opaque purple color, plenty of spicy oak in the nose (100% American oak has always been used for aging Monte Bello), and a deep, layered, concentrated style. There is plenty of tannin, but it is sweeter than that found in the 1997, and the wine is more concentrated and extracted. There is a touch of oak in the flavors, which are otherwise dominated by minerals and jammy black fruits. This is a terrific Monte Bello that will have 30+ years of life. (RP)
Good full bright ruby. Wild, superripe aromas of cassis, plum, cocoa, soy sauce, leather, roasted game and plum sauce, all lifted by a floral note. Lush, thick and dense, but the currant, black cherry and menthol flavors are still austere. The slight green note repeats on the long finish, which features faintly gritty tannins. In an awkward stage today, but has all the elements to make a superb bottle. (ST)
Still very dark crimson - looks much younger than 20 years old. Very rich, ripe nose - sweet and exotic - with a strong blackcurrant pastille and some balsam quality. Then on the palate there is amazing youthfulness and freshness. Heady, meaty, dense and with a long life ahead. 18/20 points (JR)
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