Chateau Haut-Brion 1996
Bordeaux Red Blends from Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux, France
The 1988 vintage of this wine was ranked #7 on the Wine Spectator's Top 10 Wines of 1991
A very hot year and also very dry ; such years produce great vintages. Here is what we can say about this wine today : first, the wine shows great concentration of aromas and a lot of mellowness due to lovely tannins and a rather low acidity. A wine with a lot of fitness and harmony. One might compare it to the 1959 for its structure and mellowness. Similar weather conditions produced a rather similar crop.
Wine Spectator - "Gorgeous aromas of crushed berries, cigar box, black licorice and tanned leather. Full-bodied, with fine silky tannins and a medium to long finish. Seems a little tight right now. But refined and pretty. Nice for the vintage.--'95/'96 Bordeaux retrospective. Best after 2008."
The Wine Advocate - "The backward 1996 Haut-Brion was bottled in July, 1998. Even administrator Jean Delmas was surprised by how closed it was when I tasted it in January. Only 60% of the crop was utilized in the final blend, which was 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 11% Cabernet Franc. Out of barrel, this wine exhibited far more forthcoming aromatics as well as a sweeter mid-palate than it revealed from bottle. I had expected it to be more forward, and thus slightly down-graded the wine, although I am thrilled to own it and follow what appears to be a slow evolution. It will be a potentially long-lived wine. The 1996 exhibits a deep ruby/purple color, and a surprisingly tight bouquet. With aeration, notes of fresh tobacco, dried herbs, smoke, asphalt, and black fruits emerge ... but reluctantly. It is tannic and medium-bodied, with outstanding purity and a layered, multidimensional style. However, the finish contains abundant tannin, suggesting that this wine needs 5-8 years of cellaring. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2030."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "Full ruby-red. Initially mute nose opened slowly to reveal complex aromas of raspberry, plum, hot stones, tobacco, saddle leather and toffee. Really explodes on the palate; lush and minerally, with a compelling note of woodsmoke and firm acidity. Wonderful combination of sweetness and vibrancy. Finishes very long and subtle, with firm tannins."
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Chateau Haut-Brion Winery
Château Haut-Brion is the oldest and by far the smallest of the "Premiers Grands Crus" vineyards of the Gironde 1855 classification. Château Haut-Brion is one of the few remaining family-owned domains of the Bordeaux region with a history going back to the 16th century. It has been owned by the American Dillon family since 1935. View all Chateau Haut-Brion Wines
About Pessac-LeognanView a map of Pessac-Leognan wineries (PEH-sak lay-ohn-yawn)
One of the top appellations within Graves, Pessac-Léognan is home to the only Graves chateau listed as a first growth in the 1855 Médoc classification – Chateau Haut-Brion. In fact, praise for the chateau dates back to the days of Thomas Jefferson, when, upon visiting the chateau in 1787, he bought 125 bottles for his cellar in Virginia.
The majority of wines made here are red, but Pessac-Léognan is also known for producing some of the finest dry white wines of Bordeaux. Many of the top chateau, like Chateau Haut Brion and Chateau Mission Haut Brion, produce top-quality whites alongside their red. Other Chateaux, like Smith Haut Lafite and Carbonnieux, are better known for their distinguished white wines than reds. Both colors of wine from this region have the specific tastes of the gravelly soil where it's grown.
About France - Other regionsWhen it comes to wine, France is a classic. Classic blends, grapes and styles began in the country and they still remain. Think about it - people ask for a Burgundian style Pinot Noir, they refer to wines as Bordeaux or Rhone blends - Champagne even had to pass a law to stop international wineries from putting their region on the label of all sparkling wine.
The top regions of France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Rhone. And these regions are so diverse! It makes sense that wine regions throughout the world try to emulate their style. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are no longer French varieties, but international varieties. They may not be the leader of cutting edge technology or value-priced wines, but there is no doubt that they are still producing wines of great quality and diversity.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
- Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
- Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
- Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.