While in some vintages La Mission Haut-Brion and Haut-Brion can be close in quality, that is not the case in this vintage. The 1996 Haut-Brion, a blend of 50% Merlot, 39% Cabernet Sauvignon and 11% Cabernet Franc is clearly on a higher plane than the La Mission. There is something much more expansive and complete on the nose: greater depth of fruit, more harmonious with scents of underbrush, tar, black olive and this bottle perhaps less "feral" than I have noticed on previous examples. The palate is very well balanced with dark cherries, sous-bois and cedar. This is one vintage where I think the Cabernet Franc plays an important role and lends more complexity. This is a 1996 that has retained and built upon beguiling fleshiness and it will continue to evolve with style and panache. Tasted July 2016.