St-Emilion is balanced, austere with angular tannins and closed aromatics. The best Pomerols are rich and tannic.
After a cool start to the summer, the weather warmed up, but temperatures were never excessive, helping the grapes to retain their acidity. However, rain during August and towards the end of September marred the quality of some of the Merlot vines. There was some dilution and grey rot, and many grapes were picked in damp, muddy conditions. In general, acidities were higher than in 1995 and tannins harsher. But there are some good wines, but the vintage overall is patchy.
The Right Bank in 1996 was the year of the conscientious vigneron. Heavy rain during August (87mm for the last 20 days) bloated grapes and kept acidity levels high but those that had correctly managed their vineyards were able to benefit from a run of 17 dry, sunny days in September. The Merlots were mostly picked on 23 and 24 September with good sugar levels. The Cabernet Franc was harvested in the two dry periods of 28-29 September and 3-4 October and was considered generally more successful than the Merlot – a key to the better wines of the vintage. In general the style of St-Emilion is austere with firm slightly angular tannins and closed aromatics. There is not the generosity of fruit of 1995 or 1998 but the wines are balanced and will age. The best Pomerols are quite rich and tannic.
St-Emilion: Angélus, Ausone, Beau-Séjour Bécot, Canon-la-Gaffelière, Cheval Blanc, La Mondotte, Pavie-Macquin, Le Tertre Roteboeuf
Pomerol: Beauregard, L’Eglise-Clinet, l’Evangile, La Fleur-Pétrus, Gazin, Lafleur, Latour à Pomerol, Pétrus, Vieux Château Certan