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The elegant, moderately weighted 1996 Cheval Blanc reveals a deep garnet/plum, evolved color. Quintessentially elegant, with a complex nose of black fruits, coconut, smoke, and pain grille, this medium-bodied wine exhibits sweet fruit on the attack, substantial complexity, and a lush, velvety-textured finish. It is very soft and evolved for a 1996. Anticipated maturity: 2000-2015.
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Wine Advocate #115
Feb 1998 Robert M. Parker, Jr. (90-93) Drink: 1999 - 2020 $374-$879 (150)
Typical for this estate's wines, the 1996 has put on considerable weight and flesh since I first tasted it. Forty percent of the 1996 crop was declassified, but the quality of the Cabernet Franc (which often makes up 50%-60% of the final blend) was high. Yields were below 30-35 hectoliters per hectare. This deep garnet/plum-colored Cheval Blanc offers a gorgeously exotic, sweet, smoky, coconut, menthol, jammy raspberry and blackberry-scented nose. Medium body, ripe fruit, outstanding concentration, and a succulent texture place this wine high up on the qualitative hierarchy. An intriguing coffee bean and chocolatey sweetness can be found in the wine's finish. This appears to be an impressive, savory, multidimensional Cheval Blanc that is growing in stature and weight as it ages in cask. Anticipated maturity: 1999-2020.
Bordeaux Book, 3rd Edition
Jan 1998 Robert M. Parker, Jr. (90-93) Drink: 2001 - 2020 $374-$879
This wine has put on considerable weight during cask aging and looks exceptionally strong, not surprising given the fact that 1996 is considered a strong vintage for Cabernet Franc. The 1996 Cheval Blanc exhibits a dark, dense garnet/plum color, as well as a hedonistic, smoky, exotic, sweet coconut, black plum, and cherry-scented nose intermingled with smoky oak (about 25% of the new oak is from Taransaud). The wine is ripe and complex, with rich, sweet layers of fruit that hit the palate with outstanding purity and ripeness. It is much more expansive and fatter than when I first tasted it in spring following the vintage. Sixty percent of the crop was used in the grand vin, with 20% of the balance going into the second wine, and the rest sold in bulk. This should turn out to be a sensational Cheval Blanc, rivaling the gorgeous 1995. Anticipated maturity: 2001-2020. Last tasted 11/97