Ironically, the 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain from a much weaker vintage than 1997 on paper, is a much more interesting wine. Huge and explosive on the palate, the 1998 boasts serious depth and concentration. Iron, smoke, anise and dark red/blackish fruit all swirl around in the glass in a striking, nuanced Cabernet that is among the wines of the year in Napa Valley. If there is a dark horse in this tasting, the 1998 is it. Beautiful. (AG)
Bright ruby. Cassis, minerals and mint on the nose. Very tight and a bit musclebound, but the flavors of darkest berries and licorice are vibrant and pristine. Juicy, firmly tannic and quite long, with miraculously little greenness for a mountain cabernet in '98. Very unevolved today. My bottle showed more thickness with extended aeration. Randy Dunn dropped nearly half of his fruit in order to get the rest ripe in '98, and has produced highly successful Cabernets in the context of the vintage. (ST) 90+
Dunn's normal policy is to select the Napa Cabernet Sauvignon from his barrels right before bottling. Hence what I tasted was a trial blend of this wine. This year produced extremely small crops characterized by extremely cool growing seasons as well as unusually late harvests. Randy Dunn dropped 40% of his crop in 1998 in order to attain ripeness. Consequently, this wine does not possess the herbaceousness or weediness found in many 1998 Howell Mountain Cabernets. The wine reveals plenty of sweet black currant fruit infused with minerals. While light, it is a successful effort. It may last only 20-25 years, rather than fifty! The 1998 displays excellent intensity along with pure black currant/cassis notes intermixed with earth, spice, and smoke. (RP)
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