96pts Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 1996 Pichon-Lalande is just as awesome from bottle as it was from multiple cask tastings. For Pichon-Lalande, the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is atypically high. This wine normally contains 35-50% Merlot in the blend, but the 1996 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot. Only 50% of the estate's production made it into the grand vin. The color is a saturated ruby/purple. The nose suggests sweet, nearly overripe Cabernet Sauvignon, with its blueberry/blackberry/cassis scents intermixed with high quality, subtle, toasty new oak. Deep and full-bodied, with fabulous concentration and a sweet, opulent texture, this wine was singing in full harmony when I tasted it in January. Given the wine's abnormally high percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon, I would suspect it will close down. It possesses plenty of tannin, but the wine's overwhelming fruit richness dominates its personality.
96pts Wine Spectator
Deep ruby-red. Very sexy aromas of currant, blackberry and brown sugar, all lifted by an ineffable floral quality from the thoroughly ripe cabernet sauvignon that comprises three-quarters of the blend. Dense, fresh and thick with extract; a wonderful combination of texture and guts. Has a core of steel and a powerful structure I haven't found in more recent vintages from this chateau. A very serious style of Pichon-Lalande, with much less merlot than usual. Finishes with terrific length and grip. Drink between 2005 and 2025.
Smooth, effortless, still youthful and juicy, this is a little more pulled together and precise than the 1995. It keeps on building on the palate, with crushed tobacco leaf meeting soft black fruits. 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, the rest evenly divided between Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.
A perfect combination of power and elegance. The body is rich and dense with soft tannins. The palate, just like the nose, displays an almost endless complexity.