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Burgundy 1996 Vintage Report by DRC: Burgundy exults in the sun, tempered by a subtle autumnal haze. These ideal conditions, that have set in our region since the beginning of September and went on during the whole harvest, turn today the hills into a fairy picture, where all the shades of gold, red and green dance in the fresh air of October. In the village streets, as far as in the vineyards, more than ever, we can smell the opulent fragrances coming from the winery and revealing the outstanding richness of the vintage. The winegrower knows a perfect happiness and becomes lyrical ! Forgive him : he is not used to such a celebration !

It is indeed to a celebration the Burgundian winegrowers were invited. Who was able to say at the end of August, when a starting grey rot was already arising anguish, that, a month later, we would harvest a great vintage combining to such a point quality AND quantity ! In 1996, Burgundy found itself in a climatic "bubble" it enjoyed nearly alone, while it was raining almost everywhere else in France.

As usual, afterwards, when we look back, we realize that this miracle is the fruit of a strange logic, full of meanders, that of the vintage, and we begin to understand the original factors :

- an exceptionally fast flowering that lasted a few days only around June 15th and ensured both the beautiful quality and the equal ripeness of the grapes.

- the "famous" rains that we went through with anxiety at the end of August gave in fact the quantity of water necessary to ensure the ripeness of the grapes during the whole period of drought that came after.

- and above all, a real godsend, the persistant North Wind that appeared at the very beginning of September. It  maintained the cold climatic conditions, but also the luminous skies that were favourable to photosynthesis, and, even more important, dried and made all the signs of rot disappear.

If we can speak today of a miracle, it is because the rest of the year the climatic conditions were far from being excellent : late start of vegetation. April was not bad, but it was raining a lot and there were great risks of mildew - fortunately controlled in May. The Summer was rather cold, without hot weather, nor rain. The conditions were close to drought, except at the end of August, as described above, the thirsting grapes having absorbed the water they needed to ripen.
At that moment, the North wind, and the drought concentrated sugars and acidity, which remained very high until the harvest. As faithful disciples of our ancestor DUVAULT-BLOCHET, ardent defender of late harvest, the Domaine harvested as late as possible and gained in every respect : percentages of alcohol are superb (exceeding 13° for Romanée-Conti and La Tâche harvested last) and acidities, as mentioned above, are exceptional. The wines will consequently be very well balanced.

 

Yields are for once exceptional too - over 30 hl/ha in almost every wine. We are delighted about this as, once again, Nature was exceptionally generous this year in every respect and it was "natural" we made the most of it ! [ Never mind the "pisse vinaigre" ("grouchy ones" ?) that shall not miss to criticize the generosity, yet so rare, we received from the ruling Gods ! ].

The harvest began on September 25th (except for the young vineyards that were ripe and harvested some days earlier) with Montrachet and ended with La Tâche on October 3rd. Romanée-Conti was harvested on the superb morning of October 1st.

To summarize, we think we have today a great vintage in the cellars. The barrels are just being filled; it is too early to determine the level of the vintage or to try to make comparisons with others. We shall have a more precise idea about it in a few weeks, as well as about precise quantities. We shall then allow ourselves to complete this report with further information.

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Vintage Report

Napa Valley 1996 / An unseasonably warm winter with substantial rainfall launched the 1996 growing season with an early bud break. A cool spring was followed by intermittent rain during the May bloom period, causing shatter in many vineyards and reducing the potential crop size. A relatively warm summer with several heat spells speeded veraison and ripening, while a cooling trend in September allowed grape flavors to catch up with sugars, bringing the fruit into excellent balance. Smaller clusters and a light crop resulted in deeply flavored grapes, with the overall harvest down by 20-30%.

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Italy Vintage Report by Tb: 1996 was an excellent continuation of the preceding year. Temperatures exceeding 30°C at the beginning of June accelerated and balanced the start of the blooming period. The summer growing season enjoyed ideal conditions, in which the grapes were allowed to ripen slowly and evenly. The autumn rains did not present any mould problems due to the cool temperatures. Nebbiolo grapes were thick-skinned, very concentrated and ripe. The 1996 Barolos and Barbarescos are abundantly fruity, supple and robust wines, whose quality is on a par with the 1990 vintage. In Tuscany Chianti and Montalcino enjoyed extraordinary success. Montepulciano did not do quite as well, but producers in Tuscany considered 1996 to be nearly every bit as good as it was in 1995. Starting with this vintage Angelo Gaja classified his legendary single-vineyard Barbarescos and Barolos as IGTs. Gaja said that the reason for doing this was his desire to differentiate his previous modern single-vintage wines from his family’s pride, the traditional Barbaresco, whose importance he wanted to emphasise as his only DOCG wine. The venerable Chianti producer, Castello di Ama decided that from 1996 on it would focus on the production of Chianti Classico, placing less emphasis on its single-vineyard wines, the Bellavista and La Casuccia.

The wines are still maturing very nicely, even if the Chiantis should, in my opinion, be enjoyed soon due to their sheer deliciousness.

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Rioja/ Spain by Riscal: A selection of varieties have been used in the production of this wine in which Tempranillo predominates with a percentage of 54% compared to other varieties. An analysis of this wine indicates a good balance between the alcohol degree of 13Љ and the acidity of 3.3 with a pH of 3.67. The Barn de Chirel wine appeared in 1986 as the outcome of an experimental production using a selection of grapes from very old vines, of more than 30 years, with a very low yield and high quality. The results of this trial led to the birth of the first of what could be called new age Rioja wines. A wine of very limited production, that embodies the characteristics of the vineyard, the soil and the variety in overall harmony. Since the 1995 vintage, Riscal manually selects the grapes for this great wine with the installation of selection or “trie” tables. Riscal was the first winery in Spain to introduce this system. With BarЧn de Chirel, Riscal sets a landmark in the production of quality wines. Highly successful on the national and international markets, this wine is ideal as an accompaniment to red and white meats, roasts, big and small game, stews, lamb, pork, beef, cured and blue cheeses. The 96 vintage is classified as “Very good” and had extremely dry weather, with sharp contrasts, ideal for the ripening of the grape colour. The colour is an intense garnet with a cherry rim. Intense aromas of toast, caramel and vanilla on the nose. In the mouth it is full, tannic, with a delicate hint of oak.

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The best wines of the 1996 vintage

Name Tb Producer Location
1 Hill of Grace 98.0 Henschke Eden Valley, Australia
2 Montrachet 97.4 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
3 Clos du Mesnil Vinothèque 97.2 Krug Champagne, France
4 Corton-Charlemagne 97.1 Coche Dury Burgundy, France
5 Richebourg 97.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
6 Cristal Vinothèque 97.0 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
7 DT 97.0 Jacquesson Champagne, France
8 Batard-Montrachet 97.0 Domaine Michel Niellon Burgundy, France
9 Cristal Rosé 96.7 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
10 Millésimé 96.6 Jacques Selosse Champagne, France
11 Chapoutier Ermitage de l'Orée 96.5 M. Chapoutier Rhône, France
12 Chris Ringland (Three Rivers) Shiraz 96.5 Chris Ringland South Australia, Australia
13 Screaming Eagle 96.3 Screaming Eagle Napa Valley, United States
14 Grand Siècle 96.3 Laurent-Perrier Champagne, France
15 Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 96.3 Bryant Family Vineyard Napa Valley, United States
16 Krug Clos du Mesnil 96.3 Krug Champagne, France
17 Krug Clos d'Ambonnay 96.1 Krug Champagne, France
18 Château Haut-Brion Blanc 96.0 Château Haut-Brion Bordeaux, France
19 Grosset Gaia 96.0 Grosset Wines South Australia, Australia
20 Cristal Rosé Vinothèque 96.0 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
21 Vosne-Romanée Cros Parantoux 96.0 Henri Jayer Burgundy, France
22 Madrona Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 96.0 Abreu Vineyards St.Helena, United States
23 Lafite-Rothschild 96.0 Château Lafite-Rothschild Bordeaux, France
24 Richebourg 96.0 Meo Camuzet Burgundy, France
25 Dom Pérignon P2 Rosé 96.0 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
26 Nuits-st-Georges 1er Cru aux Murgers 96.0 Meo Camuzet Burgundy, France
27 Rosé Millésime 96.0 Billecart-Salmon Champagne, France
28 Steinberger Riesling Eiswein Auslese 96.0 Kloster Eberbach Rheingau, Germany
29 Dom Pérignon P2 96.0 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
30 Dom Pérignon Oenothèque 95.9 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
31 Chevalier-Montrachet Les Demoiselles 95.9 Louis Jadot Burgundy, France
32 Château Latour 95.9 Château Latour Bordeaux, France
33 Salon 95.7 Salon Champagne, France
34 Bâtard-Montrachet 95.7 Domaine Leflaive Burgundy, France
35 Château Margaux 95.7 Château Margaux Bordeaux, France
36 Pingus 95.6 Dominio de Pingus Ribera del Duero, Spain
37 Brut Millésimé 95.5 Palmer & Co Champagne, France
38 Barolo Falletto 95.5 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
39 Chambertin Clos de Bèze 95.5 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
40 Chambertin 95.5 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
41 Musigny 95.5 Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier Burgundy, France
42 Meursault-Perrières 95.5 Coche Dury Burgundy, France
43 Greenock Creek Seven Acre Shiraz 95.5 Greenock Creek Barossa, Australia
44 Vieilles Vignes Françaises 95.5 Bollinger Champagne, France
45 Krug Vintage 95.4 Krug Champagne, France
46 Cuvée William Deutz Rosé 95.4 Deutz Champagne, France
47 Comtes de Champagne 95.4 Taittinger Champagne, France
48 Chevalier-Montrachet 95.3 Domaine Leflaive Burgundy, France
49 Dom Pérignon Rosé 95.1 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
50 Harlan Estate 95.1 Harlan Estate Napa Valley, United States
51 Sir Winston Churchill 95.0 Pol Roger Champagne, France
52 Aÿ ~ Vauzelle Terme 95.0 Jacquesson Champagne, France
53 Hermitage 95.0 Tardieu-Laurent Rhône, France
54 Greenock Creek Block Shiraz 95.0 Greenock Creek Barossa, Australia
55 The Armagh 95.0 Jim Barry Wines Clare Valley, Australia
56 Dominus 95.0 Dominus Estate Napa Valley, United States
57 Blanc de Noirs d'Aÿ Vauzelle Terme 95.0 Jacquesson Champagne, France
58 Chambertin 95.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
59 Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Le Cailleret 95.0 Domaine de Montille Burgundy, France
60 Bonnes Mares 95.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
61 Rosé Millésime 95.0 Charles Heidsieck Champagne, France
62 Insignia 95.0 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley, United States
63 Romanée Conti 95.0 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Burgundy, France
64 Montrachet Marquis de Laguiche 95.0 Joseph Drouhin Burgundy, France
65 Cuvée Elisabeth Salmon Rosé 95.0 Billecart-Salmon Champagne, France
66 The Octavius 95.0 Yalumba Winery South Australia, Australia
67 Château Gilette 95.0 Château Gilette Bordeaux, France
68 Batard-Montrachet 95.0 Louis Jadot Burgundy, France
69 Gevrey-Chambertin Clos St. Jacques 95.0 Domaine Armand Rousseau Burgundy, France
70 Corton-Charlemagne 95.0 Domaine Leroy Burgundy, France
71 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay 95.0 Kistler California, United States
72 Meursault 1er Cru Charmes 95.0 Domaine Guy Roulot Burgundy, France
73 Richebourg 95.0 Domaine Anne & François Gros Burgundy, France
74 Viña El Pisón 95.0 Artadi Laguardia, Spain
75 Montrachet 95.0 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Burgundy, France
76 Barolo Bricco Rocche Prapo 95.0 Ceretto Piedmont, Italy
77 Blanc de blancs vintage 95.0 De Venoge Champagne, France
78 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Quilceda Creek Washington, United States
79 Fût de Chêne 95.0 Henri Giraud Champagne, France
80 Montrachet 95.0 Marquis de Laguiche Burgundy, France
81 Rare Vintage Rosé 95.0 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Champagne, France
82 Cremant de Cramant 95.0 G.H. Mumm Champagne, France
83 Castello de Rampolla Vigna d'Alceo 95.0 Castello dei Rampolla Tuscany, Italy
84 Barbaresco Santo Stefano 95.0 Bruno Giacosa Barolo, Italy
85 Number 12 95.0 Kracher Neusiedlersee, Austria
86 Clos de Vougeot 95.0 Meo Camuzet Burgundy, France
87 Montrachet 95.0 Domaine Ramonet Burgundy, France
88 Clos des Goisses Vinothèque 95.0 Philipponnat Champagne, France
89 Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 95.0 Shafer Vineyards Napa Valley, United States
90 Astralis 95.0 Claredon Hills South-Australia, Australia
91 Per Cristina Barolo 95.0 Domenico Clerico Piedmont, Italy
92 Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill Vinothèque 95.0 Pol Roger Champagne, France
93 Barolo Bricco Rocche 95.0 Ceretto Piedmont, Italy
94 Chablis Grand Cru Clos 95.0 Domaine Raveneau Burgundy, France
95 Dom Pérignon 95.0 Moët & Chandon Champagne, France
96 Blanc de Blancs 95.0 Deutz Champagne, France
97 Cristal 94.9 Louis Roederer Champagne, France
98 Vintage Collection 94.9 Palmer & Co Champagne, France
99 R.D. Bollinger 94.8 Bollinger Champagne, France
100 Barolo Cannubi Boschis 94.7 Luciano Sandrone Piedmont, Italy

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