94 Points, Luis Gutierrez, Wine Advocate, 30th Aug 2019
The 1998 Almaviva is one of the few vintages that were never rated, and as I had the chance to taste a bottle from the winery with current winemaker Michel Friu, I took the opportunity to write this note to complete the information in our database. 1998 was at the time considered one of the worst vintages ever, for the simple reason that it was a very rainy year, with 730 liters of rain during the year in Puente Alto. It was also a cooler year, and they were not ready for such weather; many were unprepared, and there was less ripeness, which was considered a catastrophe at the time. The thing with years that are less ripe, with moderate alcohol and more acidity, is that the wines often develop better than expected, sometimes better than the warm and dry years, and this 1998 is a good example of that. It has evolved in a very classical way and has a profile that many could confuse with Bordeaux-spicy (even showing curry with time in the glass), with notes of bay leaf and incense, some austerity and a lively palate. The label says 13.5% alcohol, which feels right; the tannins have been fully resolved, and the texture is silky and the flavors quite focused. Even with the conditions I explained, the grapes were healthy, as it was not a year of botrytis. A superb showing of a vintage that many considered catastrophic. I think this can continue living in bottle for another decade, but it won’t improve.
“I tasted the new release of Almaviva, 2017, and as always, I also had the last couple of vintages and some older wines to check the evolution of the wines in bottle as well as to see how the winemaking has changed over the years. The wines have evolved positively, and I was surprised by the 1998-at the time considered one of the worst years ever, the wine shows more of a Bordeaux style. 2006 is definitely more Chilean, and 2008 had a very cold winter but overall was very dry. 2015 and 2016 showed pretty much like I tasted them on release, with 2016 still one of my favorite years ever, classical and herbal, and 2015 a little riper and evolving faster than 2016. As for 2017, it was another warm and very dry year, with terrible fires, though they did not have any impact in the Almaviva vineyards.”