Robert Parker 98
The 1996 Lafite-Rothschild was remarkably deep in color considering that it is now 20 years in age. The bouquet is classic Pauillac with pencil shavings and sous-bois infusing the black fruit, masculine and a little aloof, yet focused and very well delineated. The palate is very well balanced with crisp blackberry and boysenberry fruit, spicier than I recollect, a crescendo of flavors so that it seems understated at first but fans out with a sense of confidence towards the finish. I think this still has more to give so cellar it away for another 5-8 years if you can, but otherwise this is an exemplary Lafite-Rothschild that I can envisage getting better and better in bottle, if not quite as enthralling as either Mouton-Rothschild or Château Margaux. Tasted July 2016.
Anticipated maturity: 2020-2050
Full, deep ruby, by far the darkest of these vintages. Knockout nose of great precision: cassis, black cherry, lead pencil, licorice, dried herbs and mint. Densely packed and extremely unevolved; a powerfully structured wine with uncanny precision and penetration. Finishes with powerful, firm tannins and exceptional mounting persistence. An infant, but a great Northern Medoc ’96 in the making. Drink 2015 to 2040.