1996 La Mission Haut Brion Bordeaux Blend

Bordeaux Blend - 750ML
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DC 95 NM 95 VN 93 JL 92
DC 95

Decanter, November 2019

Many 1996 are still pretty closed up right now, as it was a vintage with fairly hefty tannins but this is perfect for drinking with a good carafing first. It's full of generous, rippling berry fruits and soft smudges of...
NM 95

Neal Martin's Wine Journal, July 2008

The first bottle is corked. The second displays a very fine, cedar and tobacco infused nose: quintessentially ’96 claret. Does not quite have the precision of the ’05 or ’00 but more vigour than the ’95. The palate is...
VN 93

Vinous, September 2021

The 1996 La Mission Haut-Brion is an improvement on the previous vintage, though it remains a couple of steps behind the high point of the decade, which came two years later. This is quintessential 1996 Pessac, featuring...
JL 92

TheWineCellarInsider.com, November 2023

Burning wood, smoked herbs, leafy tobacco, and sharp red currants with a peppery edge shape the perfume. Crisp, firm, and slanting towards austere in the palate, this is an old-school-styled wine that some tasters will...


Color & Type Red
Varietal Bordeaux Blend
Country France
Region Bordeaux
Sub-region Pessac Leognan
Vintage 1996
Size 750ML
Percent alcohol 13%
Closure Cork

Created by the noble Lestonnac family in the early years of the 16th century, the vineyard of Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion owes its name and its reputation to a missionary order commonly known as the Lazarites, who held the property from 1682 until the French Revolution.

The property is situated just opposite that of Chateau Haut-Brion, in the Pessac-Leognan appellation of the Northern Graves region. The vineyard covers an area of 29 hectares of which 26.60 hectares are planted with 42.7% Merlot, 47% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10.3% Cabernet Franc with an annual production of 6,000 to 7,000 cases. Over 3 hectares are devoted to white grape varieties (Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc).

In 1983, the Dillon family, already owners of Chateau Haut-Brion, added Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion to Domaine Clarence Dillon’s holdings. The new owners immediately set to work on an ambitious renovation program for the property, giving La Mission a new lease on life.

In the space of twenty-five years, the Dillon family, having fallen under the spell of this enchanting estate, successfully completed their impressive makeover of Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion so that for many years to come , it might continue to offer wine connoisseurs the world over a little glimpse of paradise in each bottle.

Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion is definitely bewitching. It possesses a great intensity that delights with complex red fruits and and the signature of its terroir showing notes of Havana cigars, chocolate, and roasted cedarwood. On the palate, the wine is spherical and generous with a long, silky finish.

The 1996 La Mission Haut Brion is a Bordeaux Blend originating from the Pessac Leognan sub-region of Bordeaux, France. Produced by La Mission Haut Brion, this red wine features a 13.0% alcohol content and is sealed with a cork closure.

Neal Martin, writing for "Neal Martin's Wine Journal" on July 1, 2008, awarded the wine a score of 95. He described the wine as having a "very fine, cedar and tobacco infused nose" and noted that it is "quintessentially ’96 claret." Martin observed that while it does not have the precision of the 2005 or 2000 vintages, it possesses more vigor than the 1995. The palate is characterized as "medium- to full-bodied" and "assertive and 'big-boned'." He also highlighted the wine’s "superb persistency on the leafy, slightly peppery finish." Martin suggested that the wine could benefit from a few more years in the bottle and recommended drinking it between 2012 and 2040.

Vinous, with a review dated September 16, 2021, gave the 1996 La Mission Haut Brion a score of 93. Neal Martin, writing for Vinous, noted that this vintage is an improvement over the previous one but still falls short of the decade’s high point, which he identifies as 1998. He described the nose as featuring "scents of warm gravel and scorched earth" and characterized the palate as "structured," "drier," and "more austere" than the 1998 vintage. Martin also mentioned experiencing bottle variation and suggested decanting the wine for a few hours before serving.

Decanter reviewed the wine on November 2, 2019, also giving it a score of 95. The review highlighted that many 1996 wines are still closed up due to hefty tannins but found this one ready for drinking with proper carafing. It described the wine as full of "generous, rippling berry fruits and soft smudges of cigar box and peat," with a "menthol sign off." Decanter recommended pairing it with homemade Shepherd's pie and expressed optimism for the performance of Left Bank 1996s in the coming years.

Jeff Leve from TheWineCellarInsider.com, reviewing the wine on November 26, 2023, gave it a score of 92. Leve described the aroma as consisting of "burning wood, smoked herbs, leafy tobacco, and sharp red currants with a peppery edge." On the palate, he found the wine to be "crisp, firm, and slanting towards austere," noting that it might be better appreciated by those who favor an old-school style. Leve suggested drinking the wine between 2023 and 2045.

Overall, the 1996 La Mission Haut Brion is a well-regarded wine with high scores from multiple reviewers, praised for its complex nose, structured palate, and potential for further aging.