1989 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

A little oxidized on the nose, with lots of earthy, leathery, mushroomy dried-out aromas. While the palate is rich and smooth, it offers flavors similar to those found on the nose with no nuance or detail, finishing abruptly on the short finish. Probably a bad bottle. 78 points

1990 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Tight on the nose, with hints of celery seed and cedar wood spice framing sweet black cherry and currant fruit. Rich and chewy in the mouth, this shows off powerful fruit, backed up with lots of oak in a round plush style that ends up being a bit chunky and sweet. While many will find pleasure here, the truth is it’s not very interesting and shows a bit of heat with its formidable power. 89 points

1991 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Seared black fruit greets the nose, layered with hints of vanilla cream, jammy fruit, and sweet toasty oak spices. Youthful and bright in the mouth, this shows off some blueberry notes over a core of young, tense, black fruit. Everything is in place and well-proportioned here, offering up a seamless blend of elegance and power that can stand another decade in the cellar. The finish is particularly noteworthy, long and fresh with lovely purity of fruit. 94 points

1992 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

A bit dull on the nose with a hint of celery under lots of toasty spices, notes of burnt marshmallow and subtle black fruits. In the mouth this is intense and focused, and far fresher than one would guess from the nose. There's big fruit paired with big oak here, a little thick and astringent across the palate. This has a bit of a coarse edge to the rather long finish, but should still improve with time in the cellar. 91 points

1994 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Aromatically this remains coy, hinting at wood spice and licorice over a core of fine blue and black fruits. The aromatics carry over into the mouth, where this exhibits attractive spice notes over a palate that is as much about cedar and wood spice as it is about black raspberry and cherry fruit. There's a lot of dry tannin here to burn off, and there seems to be enough fruit to handle it, but it's a bit of an iffy proposition at this point based on this bottle. Based on track record, however, I expect this to pull itself together nicely by about 2018. 91 points