Anybody who does not believe a 1998 California Red could surpass the heights of 1997 needs to taste this wine. The debate will continue, no doubt, but I have little doubt about this wine. Come. Taste. Disagree if you can.
The vines were more generously shoot-thinned in 1998, and the fruit was harvested a couple of clicks later than in 1997. What we got from this was every advantage of sunlight and time during the middle and later growing period. There is darker color, more aromatic, textural and structural material than the previous vintage. Later harvesting (from both a physiological and degree alcohol standpoint) lent flesh to this wine’s ample frame. Fortunately, the cool conditions helped keep things from going over the top. This wine has showed a larger appetite for new oak than its predecessor. Like the 1997, there is lots of ripe Cabernet cassis fruit, chocolate, a hint of oak in just the right places, but also possesses a slight cedar tone woven through its entire fabric. The texture is still rather supple on the ‘outside,’ yet exhibits ample structure for many years of bottle development (Reubens meets Schwarzenegger). Restaurants and wine shops get this in the summer.