A Calistoga Classic

Belated notes from a Chateau Montelena Dinner





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

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Chateau Montelena Cabernet Tasting

1.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1978)
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2.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1980)
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3.
Château Montelena Estate Cab la Costa Wine Co (1983)
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4.
Château Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Faded Bin-Soiled Label Depressed Cork (1984)
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5.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1985)
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6.
Chateau Montelena Chardonnay Napa Valley (1987)
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7.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1989)
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8.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1990)
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9.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1991)
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10.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1992)
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11.
Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley the Montelena Estate (1994)
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Comments

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,863

    I've hedged my bets for my kids' birth year bottles: Each one has a Dunn Howell Mountain and a Montelena Estate. Both are 90+ vintages, so I figure that odds are good that if the Dunn isn't ready yet, the Montelena won't have faded, and if the Montelena has faded, the Dunn will be entering its drinking window. Oldest Montelena I have had to date was 10 years and it was singing.

    May 14, 2013 at 4:32 PM


  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,268

    Wow, what an evening that was. Thank your for the excellent report. I wish I had even a single one of Montelena's Estate bottlings in my cellar. I guess there is a way to fix that.

    May 14, 2013 at 4:49 PM


  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 2,863

    Emark, I bought an extra of each from BPWine. If they are out, let me know. We do intend to drink one of each before the kids turn 21. I understand there's a Nascar race here every year and you might be in town... perhaps that sampling could be timed to give you a chance to taste them.

    May 15, 2013 at 12:11 AM


  • Snooth User: EMark
    Hand of Snooth
    847804 5,268

    That's very gracious of you, Fox. I do plan on continuing to visit Sonoma for NASCAR. The weekend of June 21-23 is the next event. Don't forget, though, some time back you also promised to let me try some of your awesome sounding Zinfandel treasure. I certainly have not forgotten. :-)

    May 15, 2013 at 1:31 PM


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