Tasted at the château, the 1996 Cos d'Estournel was aged in 65% new oak (unlike the 1995 which was 100%) and is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. It has a straight down the line, intense and focused, graphite and melted tar bouquet. It is almost Pauillac in style, no surprise given its proximity. The palate is medium-bodied with fresh acidity, finer tannin than the 1986 Cos d'Estournel tasted alongside, but sharing those same leitmotifs of black pepper and sea salt. I like the nonchalance of this Cos d'Estournel. At 20 years it is not an ostentatious wine, not determined to go out and impress, but its nuance, stylishness and classicism grow on you. Its virtues seem to register only after you swallow the wine and find yourself tempted back for more. Excellent.