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Okay first, for fellow ontarians, be careful. The Vintages booklet showed that the 99 is being released. The Ottawa store received the 98 instead.
And the 98 is "Blah!!!"
Deep burgundy/purple color with light colored rim.
The nose seemed muted very little fruit. The taste was thin, medium level tannins, not overly aggressive, but hardly any fruit. The finish was weird, earthy/fish oil taste. Unpleasant.
It is not a badly made wine just few aromas/flavors, and some are weird.
Score this 82 pts (could have gotten a 86 if not for the oily fish taste)
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I can only conclude you had a bad bottle. Fish smell??
I have several bottles of the 98 and twice as much of the 99. The 99 I tasted before buying and it was quite tightly wound with muted nose and fruit. Montelena typically needs some cellar time even for the Calistoga Cuvee. I have heard from a wine merchant that Montelena has been having a problem with some bacteria in the cellar which manifests as a musty or earthy nose on older wines (not TCA). Your comments have me curious as I am contemplating trying one of the 98s to see if I have the same experience. I'll post to this thread when I try one
My experience...
I visited Chateau Montelena in November and as a member of a media crew, I had the opportunity to taste (memorable verticals with Bo Barrett,Winemaker) the Cabernets and the Chardonnays for '98,'99,'00,and 2001.

The 1998 Calistoga is really not a typical Montelena. It is enjoyable to drink now. (a bad bottle is a possibility)

The 1999 is more of a typical Montelena and will is better to drink in 2004.

The 2000 is a keeper for year 3000...In my opinion.

I enjoyed all of them and each vintage will have its particular occasion. The 1998 will be an excellent bottle for blind tasting.

"In vino veritas"
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I see you are in my neck of the woods. You think the 2000 is something to grab? I think 2K is the year they drop the Calistoga brand and call it plain ole Cabernet. I tried the 98 estate and it was good but needs some cellar time. Thought I would try a few of the 98 Calistoga' never know. I have found some very nice 98's despite the bad press for the vintage.

Just got my 2001 estate futures.

Hi neighboor and thank you...

When you tried different '98's, have you found any inconsistencies? I am curious about this...because I was very impressed with the setup ...the operation ...and so forth.

I think Calistoga was more or less far as I remember Bo talking about it...Their flagship in my opinion is really the Chardonnays.

Have you ordered any 2000's?

"In vino veritas"

I did not attend the event at Pleasant Valley (it is 5 minutes from my door) as I was cutting my grass Razz

I was asked to go by my local wine merchant as he showed me some of the items that came from Dr. Bob's cellar. The 55 Haut Brion would have been a good bid. He also had a 70 Latour.

As far as Calistoga goes, I have not had a bottle of 98 yet, just one bottle of the 99 and it was way young. I could not answer the consistency question without tasting a lot more.

The event at Pleasant valley was of great value and good time seeing old friends. There was no '55 Haut Brion. There was '55 and '70 Latour.

I left before the final bidding for the silent auction was finalized. The bidding was around $450 when I left.

If you wish you continue the conversation off line you may contact me direct at /Thanks

"In vino veritas"
Oh boy, here we go. I tried a bottle of the 98 Montelena Calistoga Cuvee and it was a well made wine and ready to drink.

The color was a purple/ruby and semi-transparent. The nose offered leather, lead pencil, plum and cherry. With additional air time a stronger currant component emerged. On the palate the wine was silky with no noticeable tannin. Plenty of fruit on the attack carrying through mid palate with a nice cherry/currant finish. This wine was better than a 98 Duckhorn Cab I had that cost twice as much. No fishy smell or taste or green components noted
A few months back, we blind tasted the '98 Calistoga vs. the '99 Calistoga. I cannot recall the notes but I do remember that we enjoyed both wines and agreed with their high 80's scoring from WS. Everyone in the group agreed that we liked the '98 more than the '99 (this surprised all of us).

"I've gotta be honest with you, guys. I need more cowbell."
considering all the talk of late about the TCA/Brett I was very hesitant to take this to a gathering but did anyway. I decanted it about a half hour. When I first opened it I took a small taste and it had a funk, a friend took a small taste too and said "corky?". I said let's give it a chance to blow off the barn smell. About a half hour later it did blow off and a nice wine was waiting for us.

Dark and vibrant color, nose of cedar and leather and later some dark fruits. A lot of dark cherry and cassis on the palate and a long distinctive finish. A more pleasant experience that I first anticipated.


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