The clay soils really show their ability to even out vintage variation due to differences in rainfall. Rain penetrates clay slowly. Whatever can’t be stored within the soil either runs off to somewhere else, or it pools on top. If the roots are deep, they don’t seem to notice the big variations that we surface dwellers do. Consequently, the flavors of the 1998 ‘Old & Mature’ Zinfandel have followed last year’s wine quite a bit, with some of that blueberry quality that appeared last year in the 1997 Zinfandel. Similar to the previous vintage, the 1998 red wines were also left on their initial sediment (‘lees’) from harvest until the following May and June. They were racked for a second time during the winter and bottled without filtration in late January. This minimal handling really preserves their delicate perfumes (like Pinot Noir), and should increase their aging potential. While it has temporarily ‘firmed up’ about a month after bottling, I’m excited by this wine’s promise.