Category Archives: 1998

1998 Duckhorn Merlot Napa Valley

This was poured from magnum. Brownish ruby color. On the nose, developed, medium+ intensity, cedar, bell pepper, tobacco, dill, leather, spice, with bits of plum and cherry tucked in the back, some oak, and some earth. On the palate, dry, medium intensity, medium tannin, medium acidity, nice balance, and very good structure still. This drinks like a Bordeaux, with lots of mineral and a solid finish.

1998 Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Ruby with browning edges. On the nose, beautiful and developed, medium+ intensity, currants, figs, leather, cedar, cigar, some oak, and some dusty earth component. On the palate, dry, medium+ intensity, seamless, broad, extremely charismatic, a colleague at work said “this is why you wait, there’s just more paint on the canvas”, I agree fully, this wine is near perfect, from an off vintage, I want more.    

1998 Chateau L’Evangile Pomerol

This wine just crushed it! Ruby color with some browning edges. On the nose, developing with some youthfulness, medium intensity, plum, cherry, leather, cigar, earthy basementy character, perfume, some oak , and definite earth. On the palate, dry, medium intensity, balanced, layered, medium tannin, medium+ acidity, medium body, beautiful flavors and a silkiness not common with this kind of weight. A bit short on the finish, but a great wine without a doubt.    

1998 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa

cht_montelena Half bottle format. Everyone bagged this vintage because of rare rain during harvest, although a bit vegetal, some great wines were made. On the nose, evolved bouquet of medium , cigar box, pencil shavings, vegetal stemmy component, black currants, blackberry, lots of earth, some oak, very Bordeaux. On the palate, dry, medium intensity, still has lots of structure, medium+ tannin, green olive, tobacco, immense spice, with a strong finish. Not a ripe fruit bomb but more spice and evolved.    

1998 Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

I was rewarded a taste of this wine from a collegue and really enjoyed how balanced and massive this wine was. Although, at the same time I realized that many people wouldn’t like this because it was so young, tight, and tannic, that might take ten more years to unravel in the cellar. Unlike the modern trend to make ripe and opulent fruit driven overly extracted wines that fade quickly. I like both styles, but think the younger ones shouldn’t be so expensive, and the older ones should be cheaper when they are released. On the nose, serious bouquet, medium intensity, some dusty earthy character, cigar box, leather, and loads of spice. Not oaky and not really old world earthy either, and tucked in the way back, cassis and cherry. On the palate, dry, medium+ intensity, a little more fruity, medium+ tannin, medium acidity, great balance and structure, overtly masculine but refined. I fell in love with this wine. An hour later another collegue passed me the last of a decanter fully blind, I smelled it and called it an aged California Cabernet with great balance. Not inexpensive, but not quite as exorbitant as other California Cabs that fade a lot sooner.    

1998 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon

The nose on this wine through me for a loop, I found it awkward and not appealing, and nothing like the other Napa Cabs from 98 that I have tried, most of which dispel the notion that 98 was a terrible vintage. On the nose, bouquet, medium intensity, I got mustard seeds, funk, pine cone, vegetal tomato leaf, and a bug repellent component, with no earth, and some oak. On the palate, the wine kicked it up a couple notches, dry, with medium intensity, very smooth mouthfeel from nicely integrated tannins, good acidity, and moderate to long finish. The palate tasted the way a ten year old Napa Cab should.    

1998 Chateau Haut Brion Graves


It’s amazing what happens at dinner when multi-million dollar deals are at steak. I am a firm believer that guys with class and clout close more of those deals, because they understand whats classy and sexy. Not many people come in and order $700 Bordeaux, even though we’re in a mecca of multi-million dollar business. I can only pay hommage to the wine gods for sending this table my way, because I love Bordeaux, even though I cannot afford to drink what my palate has grown to love. I am however, developing some weird other skill to find wines that perform at a fraction of the 1st growth wines at a fraction the price. One the nose, bouquet, med+ intensity, loads of spice, cardamom, clove, pencil shavings, tomato leaf, sandlewood, asian spice, very classic basement-like chalky earth, no perceivable oaky quality, and deeper than the last thousand $100 bottles of wine I have tried. On the palate, dry, med+ intensity, medium tannin, very well balanced, incredible length. Not massive and structured, but more perfumey and elegant. I am happy that these wines keep finding me, but they also keep setting the bar higher and higher. I need to inherit a massive fortune to cellar this amazing wine. If you have this, I am jealous, it will deliver for another decade or two.    

1998 Joseph Phelps Insignia


This was considered an off vintage in Napa, so you could get this as at a more attractive price. Those wineries that had control in the vineyard made fantastic wines in this marginal vintage.
On the nose, moving to bouquet, med intensity, with lots of cassis, spice, rocking the Rutherford Dust, tobacco, not oaky, but vegetal component, not earthy either. On the palate, dry, med intensity, good structure, but lacking depth, and not as complex as I would have thought. Good wine but I have had better vintages. Although this is aging well and drinking better than I give it credit for, I still wouldn’t let this sit that much longer.