1998 Pride Merlot

1998 Pride Merlot

The 1998 vintage was a real challenge for the winemakers and it proved to be a test of patience. Late to start and cool throughout most of the ripening season, flavor development arrived with physiological ripening of the grapes well into October and November. For those who waited long enough, the character of the resultant wines are the just reward.

Our ’98 Merlot is exceptionally dark in color and profoundly extracted to the degree that is usually associated with warmer vintages. Ripe black cherry aromas are married with the cedary elements from toasted French oak barrel aging. Flavors are overwhelmingly ripe and the body is round and rich. The tannins are abundant, but soft and silky in the finish. Only 5% Cabernet Sauvignon adds an element of complexity to the ripe berry medley.

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Appellation: Napa/ Sonoma
Vintage: 1998
Harvest: November 1998
Fermentation: Stainless Steel
Cooperage: French Oak
Blend: 95% Merlot
5% Cabernet Sauvignon
Alcohol: 14.1%
Bottling: April 2000
Production: 4137 cases
Release Date: May 2000
Release Price:


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  • Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar: May/June 2000 - Rating: 90-92

    (the final blend was made just hours before my visit): Very deep ruby-blue. Highly aromatic nose of black cherry, black raspberry, espresso and Valrhona chocolate. Sweet, dense and highly concentrated but with lovely juicy acidity giving the primary black cherry flavor uncanny vibrancy. Impressively fat for the year. Very long, sappy, firmly tannic finish. Some of this juice will go into the Reserve Claret. A great showing in light of the vintage - in fact, this is more impressive than the '97 Merlot.

  • Wine Spectator: September 15 2007 - Rating: 93

    "SPECTATOR SELECTION" Impressive. Espresso-style, deeply concentrated Merlot, boasting a core of rich currant, coffee, black cherry and anise. Firms up on the finish, where a touch of bay leaf adds complexity to the flavor profile. Drink now through 2006. 4,137 cases made.

  • Wine Spectator: October 15 2000 - Rating: 93

    "TOP SCORING CALIFORNIA MELOT" Impressive. Espresso-style, with rich currant, coffee, black cherry and anise. Firm finish, with a touch of bay leaf.

  • The Wine Spirits: October 2000 - Rating:

    An estate wine from Pride's mountain vineyards that overlap the Napa-Sonoma border, this powerful young merlot has more structure than most. It's complicated: Rather than immediately delicious in style, it's tough, packed with flavor and all wrapped up in itself. The flavors are black (chocolate, dark plum and plum skin) while there are glimmers of light (jasmine and other white floral scents). As a merlot, it has a soft, generous middle. But as a mountain wine, the tannins complicate matters and make it earthy, a touch bitter, the finish held tight. Give it time to absorb some of the tannin and the brighter aspects of the wine should begin to shine; the complexity should also prove fascinating with age. 4,137 cases made.

  • California Grapevine: October/November 2000 - Rating: 1st Place

    Medium to medium-dark ruby; attractive, rich, intense, cedary, cassis and black cherry fruit aroma with overtones of vanilla; medium-full to full body; big, forward, rich, plush, textured, toasty, rounded, ripe black cherry fruit flavors; medium-full tannin; silky finish; lingering aftertaste. Deserves several more years of bottle aging. Highly recommended. 14.1% alcohol; 4,137 cases; blended with 5% CS; released May 2000. (group score: 15.6, 2/3/1; My score: 17 (90/100), First Place.

  • The Wine Advocate: December 23 2000 - Rating: 88

    The dark ruby/purple colored 1998 Merlot (a blend of 64% Napa and 36% Sonoma fruit) exhibits copious quantities of toasty new oak in the bouquet in addition to deep, chewy, blackberry and cherry aromas. There is excellent richness, medium to full body, adequate acidity, and a forward appeal. Drink it over the next 7-8 years.