Mount Eden Estate Chardonnay 1996
Release Date: Spring 1998
1996 was a challenging year from the standpoint of ripening. A prolonged heat wave in August sent sugars soaring and the august among us had to take a deep breath and do nothing. What we realized was the the crucial element of flavor development had not happened, so rather than harvest under-ripe grapes high in sugar, we waited.
Thankfully, the weather turned cool and the sugars actually dropped: quite unusual. September weather remained vintner friendly and a small but profound harvest ensued.
The style of the '96 vintage is ripe and rounder than usual. Hints of cardamom, anise, and hazelnut add interest to the overall lemon and melon flavors. Barrel-fermented and aged in new Burgundy barrels, this 1996 finishes with the energy and length you have come to expect.Typical of the Chardonnay grown atop Mount Eden, it is slow to evolve. After bottling in the summer following the vintage, it still needs a year or two more aging in the bottle to become sublime. Therefore, be patient: ten-year-old bottles can be outrageously good.
Sorry, technical notes not available for this vintage.
95 points Robert Parker Jr's The Wine Advocate - August 1998
Issue # 118
This profound wine is the finest Chardonnay Mount Eden has produced since their riveting 1992. This wine possesses the grandeur and volume, in addition to complexity, of a grand cru white Burgundy. The nose offers up subtle scents of smoke, roasted nuts, and honeyed, citrusy fruit. The wine cuts a full-bodied path on the palate, yet it possesses sufficient balancing acidity to give it striking delineation. The level of concentration is awesome, as is the 41-second finish. This spectacular, complex, leesy, multi-dimensional Chardonnay is more evolved than the 1992 was at a similar state. However, given how beautifully that wine has aged, this Chardonnay should improve for another 5-7 years, and last more than a decade. It is a tour de force in winemaking.
91 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar - July/August 1998
Very ripe, deep nose shows an intense spiciness and an oily, charry richness. Supple, smooth and very rich, but much less forthcoming in the mouth than the above. Seems distinctly a hot-year chardonnay from this producer, and does not currently display quite the nuance of the ’95 or ’94. But expands on the strong back end.
91 points Wine Spectator - December 1998
Tight and concentrated, with peach and citrus notes and a complex band of mineral, anise and spice. Slowly unfolds to reveal more elegance and complexity on the finish. Drink now through 2002.
California Grapevine - August/September 1998
17 points (91 of 100)
Medium-light golden yellow; attractive, moderately intense, floral, toasty, ripe tropical fruit aroma with overtones of butterscotch and vanilla; full body; big, rich, lingering aftertaste. Above-average to superior quality. This wine improved with airing in the glass and should reward another year or two of bottle aging. Very highly recommended.