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1996: Calon Segur, Pichon Longueville Baron, Pontet Canet

May 22, 2014

I encountered a trio of clarets from 1996, now almost 18 years post-vintage where it seems most of them are on the verge of tertiary development, although it is clear some have not entirely shed their backwardness:

1996 Ch Calon Segur (courtesy of Chris), at the SMA dinner, Regent Hotel, 10 May 2014. Aired in bottle for two hours. Highly evolved on the nose with notes of dried plums, black fruits and the indefinable lovely glow of an aged claret with excellent linearity on the palate, although somewhat narrow in spectrum, lacking in mid-body fat and rather dry in mouthfeel. Perhaps I already had too much to drink on that evening by the time I came to the Calon; it may perform much better on its own.

1996 Ch Pontet Canet, popped and poured at Anu & Ravi’s wedding, Holiday Inn Orchard, 16 May 2014. The classic Pauillac signature is loud and clear, represented by notes of dried tobacco leaves, snuff box, pencil shavings and mushrooms, the dryness of its terroir ensuring that the wine remains medium-bodied with its flavours confined within a narrow spectrum. Some will like this style, but on this occasion, its deficiencies were shown up by the Pichon Baron (below) from the same vintage.

1996 Ch Pichon Longueville Baron, popped and poured at Anu & Ravi’s wedding, Holiday Inn Orchard, 16 May 2014. We drank this rather quickly, but who could resist its generous aromas of ripe dark cherries and blueberries and raspberries emanating from a medium-full wine with much more presence and depth of fruit than the Pontet Canet above, still remaining fresh and vibrant after all these years, hinting at further developmental potential whilst enticing one to partake all its goodness at this stage. This bottle is far better than another tasted in February 2014, which, I suspect, suffered from poor provenance. Keep!

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