Rich layers of cassis, boysenberry and black cherry slowly unfold in our Robert Mondavi 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Intriguing nuances of spice, cedar forest and licorice heighten the wines complexity. The excellent structure, with broad, muscular tannins and a long, velvety finish, promises even greater development with bottle aging for 15 or more years.
Our Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is made from several highly acclaimed Napa Valley vineyards, primarily from the Oakville District, that we have chosen as having the most expressive fruit character and finest balance of the vintage. Extended maceration, a long malolactic fermentation and aging in new French oak barrels, captured and enhanced the wines expression of vineyard terroir.
In Napa Valley, as throughout California, 1998 was an unusual year for weather. El Niño gave us a growing season punctuated with extremes ― twice the normal rainfall, 18 days of frost, cold weather at bloom and record heat spells. Yields for some varieties were down because of the wet weather during bloom and berry set. A period of excessive summer heat caused sunburn in some vineyards, necessitating thinning to maintain high quality. But then, as harvest approached, the weather improved, and we had near perfect mild, sunny days for ripening. The small, loose clusters had sufficient "hang time" on the vines to create vibrant flavors and natural balance in the wines. Overall, the 1998 harvest, one of the latest of the decade, turned out to be of excellent quality.
Our 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve captures the personality of Napa Valley's celebrated Oakville District with beautifully articulated flavors of berries, cassis and spice. We selected 70% of the blend from the Oakville District with 40% harvested from Robert Mondavi's historic To Kalon Estate Vineyard. This vineyard has been continually planted to grapes for over 130 years and, for more than 50 years, it has been the backbone of Robert Mondavis finest Cabernet Sauvignon wines. To Kalon Vineyard and the neighboring vineyards selected for this wine, are on the Oakville bench where low-fertility, well-drained soils allow deep rooting and the development of complex flavors in the grapes. To enhance the ripe berry complexity of the wine, and complement the Oakville District fruit, we harvested 15% of the grapes from the Stags Leap District, 10% from the Carneros District, and 5% from a vineyard in west Napa Valley. We hand-harvested the grapes at an average sugar level of 24.6 Brix with 0.67% acid and 3.69 pH.