1996 was a much hotter year than 1997, 1995, and 1994. While the 1996s are outstanding wines, in some cases the aromatics are more muted because of 1996's high heat. As the tasting notes and ratings evidence, the Chardonnays are slightly more bunched in scores and quality than in vintages such as 1995 and 1994. The 1996 Chardonnay Point Rouge may not equal the near perfection of the 1995, but it is an extremely powerful, fabulously concentrated, compelling wine by any standard of measure. In 1996, the acidity seems slightly lower, and the wine perhaps more evolved than recent examples, but this is a classically rendered Chardonnay, as well as a lesson in what can be achieved in California. A wine to satisfy both the intellect and palate, the rich 1996 Point Rouge provides plenty of honeyed citrus, buttery tropical fruits, full body, and exceptional purity and presence in the mouth. Aromatically complex (intensely fragrant) and extremely long, this thrilling Chardonnay should age for 2-4 years. All of Peter Michael's top wines, including the Chardonnays, are bottled without filtration. Readers should make it a point to visit this winery situated in Knights Valley, not far from the Napa/Sonoma county line. The quality is extraordinary, and the commitment and talent of the winery staff laudatory. Moreover, the winery seems committed to achieving even greater quality. (RP)
Minerals, citrus zest and lemon cream on the nose. Very backward in the mouth; thick but kept under wraps by strong acidity. Chewy and tactile, but comes across as drier today than the Indigene and Mon Plaisir. Long, subtle back end hints at coconut. (ST)
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