The December installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape. As I mentioned in the July installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. I plan on opening the winning bottle on December 29th and publishing an in-depth bottle note on the 31st.
The ’98 vintage was widely heralded by almost all wine writers. The most acclaimed critic of the Southern Rhône is Robert Parker, who described the vintage as “sumptuous” especially in regards to Châteauneuf du Pape, concluding that one day it might surpass the amazing ’89 and ’90 vintages.
Weather conditions were exceptional in ’98 with a hot growing season spelled by well-timed rains that allowed Syrah and Grenache, the region’s two main red grapes, to develop under near perfect conditions.
’98 Beaucastel – Very youthful, with a juicy blast of red plum and fig fruit flavors on a racy frame, this also has plenty of spice, tar, plum cake and mineral in reserve, as the finish shows more structure and slowly darkens with time in the glass. Only just starting to hit its stride. 95 points from The Wine Spectator.
’98 Clos des Papes – Has a mature brick hint at the rim, but this is still very youthful, with an elegant, silky core of red and black currant fruit that holds the upper hand over the garrigue, graphite and licorice notes. The long, very fine-grained finish lets an alluring incense note peek in. A beauty, this is all about finesse and should cruise in the cellar. 96 points from The Wine Spectator.
’98 Vieux Telegraphe – This has always been one of the harder-edged wines of the vintage, but it is showing some signs of softening. The color remains dark, with aromas of grilled herb, tobacco and beef leading the way for currant, chestnut and garrigue notes that are carried by the prominent tannin structure. The chewy, mouthfilling finish is starting to let some sweet flesh come out from behind the iron and stone notes. Still needs time, but this is rock solid. 94 points from The Wine Spectator.
All of the above reviews above are from a 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape retrospective done by The Wine Spectator in 2007.
Which 1998 Châteauneuf-du-Pape should I open?
- Vieux Telegraphe (40%, 23 Votes)
- Clos des Papes (33%, 19 Votes)
- Beaucastel (28%, 16 Votes)
Total Voters: 58
Thanks for voting! I’d love to hear why you picked one bottle over another. Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the January installment of Pick My Next Bottle.
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