Tasting Notes

Irvine's top cuvee, the 1998 Grand Merlot, is produced from exceptionally ripe fruit, and is aged in new French oak for 30 months prior to bottling. While it appears to possess 10-15 years of aging potential, a vertical tasting last year proved otherwise. This cuvee is at its best during its first 4-5 years of life, and then, for reasons that perplex me, seems to lose it. Nevertheless, it is super-impressive young - flamboyant, exotic, and kinky, with copious quantities of super-rich black cherry fruit infused with toasty new oak, and loads of lavishly rich coffee, espresso, and chocolatey notes. Not recommended for those seeking restraint or European-styled elegance, this is an in-your-face, New World Merlot to drink over the next 5-6 years. Robert Parker