That may explain the open-knit, complex notes of tree bark, black cherries, licorice, seaweed, pepper, and floral notes in the 1998 Beaucastel. The wine is medium to full-bodied, has nice, sweet tannins, and is surprisingly open and approachable. This wine has reached the beginning of its plateau of maturity, where it should last for at least a decade or more.
Atypically forward for a wine from Beaucastel, my recollection is that the actual percentage of Grenache, which never exceeds the Mourvedre in their final blend, was much higher in 1998 than in other years.
Score: 92 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (189), June 2010
Lotus of Siam #2 hedonist gazette
Score: 98 Robert Parker, Hedonists Gazette, June 2009
Score: 95 Robert Parker, RobertParker.com (Aug 03), August 2003
The 1998 Châteauneuf du Pape is the greatest effort produced since Beaucastel's 1989 and 1990. It reveals more accessibility, no doubt because the final blend included more Grenache than normal. Its dense purple colour is followed by sweet aromas of blackberries, licorice, new saddle leather, and earth. There is superb concentration, full body, low acidity, and high tannin, but it is surprisingly drinkable for such a young Beaucastel. Ideally, it needs another 3-4 years of cellaring, and should keep for 25-30 years. This great Beaucastel should rival the superb Châteauneufs produced in 1990, 1989, and 1981.
Score: 95+ Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (138), December 2001
More accessible is the spectacular 1998 Beaucastel Rouge… it is an explosively rich, remarkably flattering Beaucastel, even after bottling. It is flamboyant, no doubt because of the larger than normal percentage of Grenache. It boasts explosive richness, thick, juicy blackberry and kirsch liqueur, smoke, liquorice, roasted meats, and truffles. The acidity seems low (analytically it is the same as 1999) and the wine fat, full-bodied and intense. It will be hard to stay away from this wine, even though it will evolve for 25-30 years. Could it turn out to be similar to the 1981 rather than the 1989?
Score: 95 Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (131), October 2000
The superb 1998 CDP is once again a classic blend (for Beaucastel, not CDP) of 30% Mourvedre, 30% Grenach, 10% Syrah, 10% Counoise, 5% Cinsault, with the balance of other permitted grape varieties. The colour is a dense, saturated purple with blue highlights. Huge, rich and full-bodied, with high tannin, and a layered finish, this is not for readers seeking a CDP to drink at an early age. Its mouthcoating extract does not totally conceal the significant tannin. It appears 8-10 years of cellaring will be warranted; the wine should last for 3-4 decades. 92-94+
Score: 92/94+ Robert Parker, Wine Advocate (125), October 1999