1998 Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage weather is the driving force behind our 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon. Growing season conditions dictated fruit expression from the outset and continue to dominate the wine as it ages in bottle. The long, hot summer of 1998 created a powerful, richly textured wine.
Coming off of an El Nino winter, there was virtually no winter damage in the Columbia Valley. However, flowering and fruit set weather was cool and slightly wet, so yields were relatively low. The dominant weather pattern for the vintage developed by mid June: dry and warm to downright hot through to September and October, a pattern similar to 1994, with very warm temperatures in July and August. The lower yields and warm temperatures combined to give small grapes, small clusters, thick skins and not a whole lot of juice/berry: the recipe for a concentrated vintage.
Our blend in 1998 is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot from hand picked grapes from warm sites on Red Mountain and cooler sites in the mid Yakima Valley. Red Mountain fruit provided the muscular, concentrated flavors, while the Yakima Valley vineyards added purity to the aroma and elegance to the finish.
Fermentation was vigorous with twice daily punch downs until completion in tank before pressing off. Color, tannin and depth of flavor were the results. We aged it for 17 months in small French oak barrels, about 2/3 new, and then nearly an additional year in bottle. The wine was bottled unfiltered and lightly fined, with well-integrated oak that doesn't overshadow the fruit.
This combination of vineyard, climate and technique built a richly flavored wine, with supple tannins and plenty of concentration. The deep fruit notes of Cabernet Sauvignon dominate the blend: black cherry, plum and blackberry. Some of the typical pencil lead and spice aromas of Cabernet show through. The Merlot component was equally ripe, adding mocha and black pepper notes. Our 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon can be enjoyed relatively early, yet there's ample tannin, structure and extract to carry it for many years.
Wine Analysis: pH 3.73
Total Acidity: 5.2 g/l