The vintage 1996 is graded 4/5 by Decanter.com, and described as « pure, elegant wines with the ability to age ». Let’s say it is the vintage of the century !
Very warm weather in June led to a swift flowering. The summer was unsettled and August was relatively cool, but late August and all September was sunny and dry, with cool nights that conserved acidity in the grapes. The outcome was a large crop of extremely healthy grapes, with high sugars, excellent acidity, and deep colours.
With high levels of malic acidity in their grapes, many growers initially were concerned that the wines would turn out tart or angular. And the malolactic fermentations proceeded slowly, in many cases not finishing until June or July. (In fact, I tasted some wines in November that had not finished!) Yes, the ’96 reds display the same crisp acids as the whites from this vintage, but, by and large, the acids of ’96 are ripe and serve to brighten the fruit. Tannins are generally firm but unobtrusive. However, many wines made from excessive yields or from grapes harvested before the skins were sufficiently ripe lack the stuffing for proper balance. Without enough buffering extract, these wines frequently do taste tart, and some of them finish dry. If there is a difference between ’96 and ’90, it is that the higher acidity of ’96 gives some wines a harder edge and the impression of less density. On the other hand, well-made village wines in ’96 have a purity and delineation of flavor less frequently seen in ’90.
Colors are bright and dark, aromas remain quite fresh, and the quality and clarity of fruit is often exhilarating. Many wines have been kept fresh by remaining longer on their fine lees. Because this is a vintage that accents fresh Pinot Noir fruit, most growers are likely to bottle on the early side, so the typical ’96 will have spent a relatively short period of time in barrel unprotected by contact with its lees. Most growers believe that this is a vintage that will give early pleasure but also age well, although some are beginning to think that these wines, like the ’95s, will shut down at some point following the bottling. Certainly, with their firm acids, they may go through an angular period.
Marquis d’Angerville; Comte Armand; Robert Arnoux; Denis Bachelet; Ghislaine Barthod; Château de Chorey; Bruno Clair; Yvon Clerget; J.J. Confuron; Claude Dugat; Bernard Dugat-Py; René Engel; Forey Père & Fils; Henri Gouges; Jean
Grivot; Anne Gros; Michel Gros; Alain Hudelot-Noëllat; Michel Lafarge; Comtes Lafon; Leroy; Hubert Lignier; Hubert de Montille; Denis Mortet; Gérard Mugneret; Dr. Georges Mugneret/Mugneret-Gibourg; Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier; Jean-Marc Pavelot; Pousse d’Or; Ramonet; Emmanuel Rouget; Georges
Roumier; Christian Sérafin; Jean Tardy; De Vogüé.