I was not travelling to Bordeaux back when the 1996s were first displayed, and my primary business at this time in the wine trade was not young claret, so I do not have anywhere near as much tasting experience with the young ‘96s as I do with the 1995 vintage. Consequently, I am always happy to cross paths with wines from this year, which is clearly very, very strong on the Left Bank. The 1996 Cantemerle is outstanding, offering up a deep and very vibrant bouquet of cassis, dark berries, cigar ash, gravelly soil tones, incipient notes of chipotles and a deft base of new vanillin oak. On the palate the wine is deep, full-bodied, complex and classically balanced, with a rock solid core, fine focus and grip, blossoming refinement and excellent length on the tangy and still fairly chewy finish. This wine is going to be excellent, but it is still at least six or seven years away from primetime drinking. (Drink between 2020-2060)
Magnum. Tasted blind. Looks quite mature ruby. Really mature and fun. Fresh fruit and not too much obvious tannin. Just very slightly austere.
I had hoped this wine would turn out closer to outstanding, but it is an excellent Cantemerle, if not quite as stunning as I had expected. The wine offers a dark ruby color, and a sweet nose of black raspberries, subtle new oak, and acacia smells. There is fine sweetness and solid tannin in this elegant, symmetrical wine. It is more forward and lighter than it was from cask, but it is a stylish example of Cantemerle. (RP)
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