The 1998 is my idea of the ideal table wine for near term (next 3-5 years) consumption. The wine is supple and dense, belaying its moderate color (extracted Grenache lacks the inky blackness common in Syrah-based Rhone wines). The nose is dominated by raspberry or blackberry or black cherry aromas, very intense -- it really roars from the glass. There is a remarkable sweet note to the nose overlayed with a spicy element. I also find a slight nutty aroma; perhaps one would point to vanilla or some sort of sweet musk. The wine still has a bit of tannin but really just enough to give it backbone. Concentrated black fruits, ripe with a sweet core, outstanding length. Perhaps a tad too much oak is noticable on the end of the finish. But it is hard to imagine a nicer wine to drink now or during the next two years.
Maybe I was just in the right mood when I had this, but I think this is the best Chateauneuf that I've have. Exceptionally extracted and almost overripe, this didn't have all the provencal herbs that some other Chateauneufs have, but it was remarkably balanced and elegant. At $40, I think this is one of the best values in wine I've had in a long time.