Ratings & Tasting Notes:
95 points Wine Advocate
While in some vintages La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion can be close in quality, that is not the case in this vintage. The 1996 Haut-Brion, a blend of 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc is clearly on a higher plane than the La Mission. There is something much more expansive and complete on the nose: greater depth of fruit, more harmonious with scents of underbrush, tar, black olive and this bottle perhaps less “feral” than I have noticed on previous examples. The palate is very well balanced with dark cherries, sous-bois and cedar. This is one vintage where I think the Cabernet Franc plays an important role and lends more complexity. This is a 1996 that has retained and built upon beguiling fleshiness and it will continue to evolve with style and panache. (NM) (10/2016)
94 points John Gilman
The 1996 Haut Brion is less hermetically sealed than the 1998, and is beginning to hint a bit at its secondary layers of aromatic complexity, though it still remains a very young wine. The bouquet is deep and classic, as it jumps from the glass in a mélange of black cherries, dark berries, Cuban tobacco, incipient notes of the black truffles to come, and a fine base of Graves earth. I assume that the 1996 saw the same amount of new oak as the 1998, but there is little sign of the wood at the present time. On the palate the wine is full-bodied, deep and very intense, with a quite powerful profile for Haut Brion. The wine is rock solid at the core and very tannic, though the tannins are ripe and well-integrated into the wine. The finish is very, very long and soil-driven, and this will clearly be one of the most powerful vintages of Haut Brion to emerge since the 1959. It will be superb, but one will require plenty of patience. (6/2007)
93 points 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. (JS, Web-2007) (3/2007)
92 points Int’l Wine Cellar
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. (ST) (5/1999)
1.5 L Magnum
Always stored in a climate controlled cellar.
Small dent on the top of the capsule as shown. Otherwise, perfect.