What a treat it is to taste these two Pichon Lalandes straight from the chateau’s cellar. The 1996 Pichon Lalande is stratospheric from the very first taste. The deep, layered bouquet alone is deeply transfixing. Smoke, mocha, dark spices, lavender, crème de cassis, a host of dark-fleshed fruits and a touch of warm, resonant sweetness from the French oak draw me in. All of those sensations follow through to the palate, where the wine is massive, intense and totally enveloping. Time has softened the tannins to the point the 1996 is ready to drink, but there is enough sheer concentration here to support another 20-30 years of exceptional drinking. I am not sure I possess the vocabulary to describe just how captivating the 1996 is, but I do know this: If I had an opportunity to pick up a few well-stored bottles I would take it in a nanosecond. Readers holding the 1996 should be thrilled. The 1996 Pichon Lalande is a magnificent wine with plenty of upside. In word: fabulous. (AG) 97+
The 1996 Pichon-Lalande has long been one of the high points of this Pauillac estate and now at 20 years of age it is firing on all cylinders. You cannot have any complaints against the nose: intense blackberry, cedar and graphite, all beautifully delineated, demand your attention. The palate offers exquisite balance, refined and yet intense, the Cabernet Sauvignon clearly in the driving seat but assisted by the Merlot that imparts the crucial fleshy texture on the finish. Red berry fruit, cigar box, mint, juniper berries ... this is a complex and riveting Pauillac wine that is going to cruise along its drinking plateau for many years. This is outstanding. Drink now through 2040. (NM)
Deep ruby-red. Very sexy aromas of currant, blackberry and brown sugar, all lifted by an ineffable floral quality from the thoroughly ripe Cabernet Sauvignon that comprises three-quarters of the blend. Dense, fresh and thick with extract; a wonderful combination of texture and guts. Has a core of steel and a powerful structure I haven't found in more recent vintages from this chateau. A very serious style of Pichon-Lalande, with much less Merlot than usual. Finishes with terrific length and grip. (ST) 95+
Smooth, effortless, still youthful and juicy, this is a little more pulled together and precise than the 1995. It keeps on building on the palate, with crushed tobacco leaf meeting soft black fruits. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, the rest evenly divided between Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. (JA)
75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot. Really intriguing wine that's already quite evolved on the nose. Really deliciously perfectly formed at this stage. Juicy and ripe but with admirable freshness. Most impressive. Polished tannins and at a perfect stage for current drinking. 17.5/20 Points (JR)
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