90-92 POINTS: VINOUS - Very good dark red-ruby. Explosive, perfumed, ripe cabernet aromas of cassis, coffee, leather and game; more precise and subtle than those of the '97. Sweet, intensely flavored and strong in extract; enlivened by solid acidity. Finishes very long, with firm, tongue-coating tannins. Very strong wine, as precise and scented on the back half as on the front. "Like the '86 but with more finesse and aromatic complexity," says Pauli. -Stephen Tanzer
91 POINTS: ROBERT PARKER - The 1996 appears to be a potential sleeper of the vintage, and may merit an outstanding score. It is a powerful, bulky style of Gruaud-Larose, with a dark ruby/purple color, and plenty of cassis, spicy new oak, and roasted herbs in the jammy nose. On the palate, the wine has lost much of the forward precociousness it was revealing last spring, now boasting loads of tannin in its powerful, muscular flavors. It seemed much softer when I first tasted it, but the wine has put on weight and gained considerable structure. It now appears this husky wine has the potential for long-term cellaring.