I have noticed in my tastings that the second wine of Lafite-Rothschild, Carruades de Lafite, has improved over recent years. The 1996, a blend of 63% Cabernet Sauvignon and 37% Merlot, may turn out to be the finest Carruades I have ever tasted. It possesses as much power, ripeness, and fleshy fruit (because of the high percentage of Merlot) as I have ever detected in this offering. While it does not quite have the characteristics of Lafite, being fleshier and more accessible, it is a beautifully made wine with a subtle dosage of toasty new oak, an appealing texture, and excellent length. Given its power, this second wine will need 2-4 years of cellaring, and keep for 15+ years (I would not be surprised to see it last for two decades).