1998 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Calistoga Cuvee

In the growing season of 1998 we experienced very high rainfall for the year and lower than usual daytime temperatures during the spring and summer months. This resulted in later development of all stages of vine growth, from bud break through harvest. Early on we knew harvest would be late, it was simply a matter of determining how late. September and October were quite kind to us. The first two weeks of September were hot with a majority of the days getting close to, or into the 100’s. The rest of September and October were primarily mild days with cool to cold mornings. Pretty darn good ripening weather.

The Cabernet Sauvignon we saw from the Calistoga area was literally perfect; great flavors and ripeness with very good fruit chemistry. The quality is remarkable for several facts: It ripened late with a good size crop; the berry size was textbook Cab… tiny berries, so the skin to juice ratio was good, an excellent vintage for all Cab vineyards.

Those of you familiar with our Calistoga Cuvee will detect several significant changes we have made to this wine. During the first vintages from 1991 through 1994 we made a lighter, "wine by the glass" style Cabernet. From 1995 through 1997 we made a slightly bigger "Trattoria" style with Cabernet Franc and Merlot, but retaining softness and an early drinking style. Beginning with this vintage we now make it as a proper Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. We have used much more expensive grapes, the good growers have lowered the crop levels, we've dropped several rich-soil, soft wine vineyards, upgraded from large cask to French oak barrels in our new ageing caves and provided many more months of bottle ageing prior to release. Most importantly, we've allowed the wine to grow to it's potential during the fermentation and cellar development stages. Give it a try and you'll see our new version has great body and balance, and most importantly is a tasty wine.

vintage weather

Cool. Well above average rainfall, cold and rainy throughout the early to middle growing season. Warm and dry July and August, cool September and wonderful ripening weather in October. Average crop size, great flavors and ripeness, extremely well balanced

tasting notes

This wine has a very inky color, dense to the edge of the glass. The fine structure and classic style show the cool vintage. The nose is very strong varietal Cabernet fruit cassis [or currant], earthy and also has some pepper. The vintage style is highlighted in the very balanced structure, rich and round with lots of fruit. The texture has an open front and that full body feel follows through to the finish.

Harvest Date October 7 to October 30
Sugar At Harvest 23.5° to 24.2° brix
Barrel Aging 16 to 19 months
Bottling Date Spring 2000
Release Date Spring 2001
Alcohol 13.9%