Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Del Dotto Napa Valley Merlot 1998

Del Dotto Napa Valley Estate Merlot 1998

For a casual wine and cheese tasting, I opened this vintage Merlot from a half bottle. At sixteen years old, from a much maligned vintage, from a small format (375ml) bottle, this had all the makings for a pop and pour (out). Fortuitously, this was still very approachable, tasty, holding its own, a nice complement to the selection of artisan cheeses and dark chocolate.

This is another example of the steadfastness of this unheralded '98 Napa vintage that was severely overshadowed by what I contend was the over-rated '97. This is also further testament to the age-ability of  Bordeaux varietals from Napa. I have said and written often that the '98 vintage offers more enjoyable drinking than the much higher rated '97. Its ready to drink now, while the 97 seems to be withholding its potential and remains a bit tight and closed. I said this five years ago and am surprised to still be saying it today.

We visited and dined with Del Dotto during several of our Napa trips going back to our Napa Wine Experience 1998 up to 2005. We hold a vertical collection of their Napa Cabernets that spans about a decade. 

This '98 Merlot was dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied with earthy black berry and black cherry fruits accented by leather, dark tea, hints of tangy spice, and tones of creosote and smoke with a tongue coating mouth puckering lingering tannin finish - a nice accompaniment to hearty cheese, biscuits and dark chocolates. Amazingly, it showed no signs of diminution from age. Amazingly, I opened this, had a small glass, corked it and threw it in the cooler. When I found and reopened it three days later,  it was even better!

RM 88 points.