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. Tasted July 2016. (NM)
Bright full ruby. Pure, perfumed aromas of cassis and violet. Dense and tactile in the mouth; a huge, chewy wine with major extract but also considerable refinement. Almost painfully backward today, and a bit less perfumed than it was in the year or so after the bottling, but the huge tannins show no hardness. Another great expression of Cabernet Sauvignon from the '96 vintage. Drink 2015 through 2040. (ST) 96+
The 1996 Château Margaux comes from a cooler year and has always been a more focused, structured, even reserved wine. It has classic notes of crème de cassis, crushed rocks, graphite, and flowers, with more lead pencil and spice notes developing with time in the glass. While it was impenetrable on release, it’s showing some evolution today and is medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and seamless on the palate, with remarkable length. While I’ve never found this vintage to be at the level of the 1982 or 2000, it’s pure class as well as a thrilling example of the estate. The blend of the 1996 is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, and the balance Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc, and it should continue evolving gracefully for another two decades or more.
Fully formed now, with a rush of steeped currant and black tea notes that are melded with a backdrop of anise, sandalwood, bergamot and charcoal. The long, suave finish lets the perfume linger, with a weighty feel. This seems to mark the start of the refinement of tannins; despite the power, this is all grace and elegance. (JM, Web Only-2014)
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