1998 Duckhorn Napa Valley Merlot
(17% Cab. Franc; 5% Cab. Sauvignon; 3% Petit Verdot). If a little less rugged and a little more open than young Duckhorn Merlot typically is wont to be, this latest offering from one of the Napa Valley's premier makers of the variety is well-ripened and inviting with a frontal mix of juicy cherries and sweet oak. It gets a slight bit gruff at the finish, but its tannins are never out of bounds, and a few years of cellaring should provide it with all the polish that it needs.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Dark red. Aromas of red cherry, red berries, cinnamon, nutmeg, sandalwood, rose petal and bourbon; I might have identified this blind as Sangiovese. Juicy, supple, moderately concentrated red fruit flavors seem overshadowed by oak. Initially soft tannins turned a bit dryer in the glass. (ST)
Well-balanced, with a supple texture and rich currant, anise, cedar, berry and spice, with hints of vanilla and toast. Long, complex aftertaste. (JL)