1996 Bordeaux Wine Vintage Report and Buying Guide

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1996 Bordeaux Wine Vintage Summary with harvest information, vintage characteristics, buying tips and links. If you are seeking more in-depth information on anything and everything related to the Bordeaux wine region please see the: All About Bordeaux Wine Guide

1996 Bordeaux wine is a year that celebrates Cabernet Sauvignon.  The vintage was picture perfect for the Medoc. The hot, sunny and dry conditions gave the vines the perfect amount of stress which allowed the Cabernet Sauvignon to achieve excellent phenolic ripeness.

1996 Bordeaux wine came out a growing season that started with a mild winter.  Bordeaux enjoyed warm weather starting from early March through April. In fact, March was sweltering with a heatwave that lasted close to two weeks! May was cool.  June was hot, with average temperatures hovering close to 90 degrees. Due to the high heat, flowering was quick and in some cases, uneven. While July started off cool and moist, things quickly improved and the remainder of July, along with most of August was fine.  At the end of August, a large rainstorm struck, dropping 6 inches of water, which is more than three times the normal amount of rain the region usually experiences that time of year. Most of the rain was located in the Right Bank and Margaux. Very little rain fell in Pauillac, St. Julien and St. Estephe. With the drought, the water was exactly what the vines needed for the Cabernet Sauvignon. But it did not offer much help to the Merlot in Pomerol or St. Emilion.

September once again saved the day for the Medoc. From August 31, until September 18, the weather cooperated with warm, sunny and dry conditions. The strong winds also helped dry the vineyards. It’s said, these winds shaped the vintage. The 1996 Bordeaux wine harvest got off to an official start, September 16 with the Merlot. Cabernet Sauvignon was picked from the end of September until mid October under picture perfect conditions.

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The best 1996 Bordeaux wine from the Medoc offer intense purity. They are deep, concentrated, tannic and full bodied.  They have the stuffing to age for decades. The flavors are dark, fresh and clean. The tannins feel soft, sweet and caressing.  1996 Bordeaux wine continue aging perfectly.  As strong as  the 1998 Bordeaux vintage was for the Right Bank, 1996 Bordeaux wine is equally well crafted for the Left Bank. 1996 Bordeaux wine belongs in every Bordeaux wine lovers cellar.

Every 1855 Classified Growth experienced massive price hikes over the past few years. This makes 1996 Bordeaux wine an expensive proposition.  Although, when compared to prices from 2009 and 2010, when you consider the benefit of bottle age, coupled with the drinkability of many of these wines, if you have the disposable income, these wines are stunning examples of Pauillac, St. Julien that are worth purchasing.  The vintage is less consistent in Margaux, St. Estephe and Pessac Leognan. There is no need to buy 1996 Bordeaux wine from the Right Bank. Save your money and buy the much better 1998 wines.

1996 was the first successful vintage for the sweet, white Bordeaux wine of Sauternes since 1990. Because all the attention for the 1996 vintage is focused on the red wines, prices remain fair for Sauternes and Barsac.

The following list of Bordeaux wines offer value and quality. They are not always the highest scoring wines, but they are all worth buying.  1996 Best Bordeaux wine for the money today

To read about other Bordeaux vintages from 1945 to today: Bordeaux Year to Year Detailed Vintage Reports & Guide 1945 to Today