In the glass the 2002 has a dark, inky-purple color, saturated to the edge. It has a pronounced aromatic bouquet of luxurious pure ripe fruit, cassis and earth. The wine's diverse, complex and powerful flavor profile - with ripe cassis, blackberry, and black cherry flavors supported by hints of tar and earth - prove that the painstaking and slow process of partial row harvesting was well worth the effort. The tiny Cabernet berries yielded from the vineyard's dry soils produced powerful yet silky tannins and a refreshing backbone of acidity which, combined with its bold structure and rich flavors, infused it with plenty of power to age for a long while. The wine is elegant, showy and polished, with plenty of body and plush ripeness.
"his appears to be one of the great efforts from Chateau Montelena, something I think I was correct about when I gave it an “in the bottle” rating in 2006 of 95+. It is still an amazingly young wine that came from old vines on the famous St. George rootstock that did not require replanting because of the phylloxera epidemic that swept through Napa in the late 1980's and 1990's. Despite its lofty 14.4% alcohol (high by Montelena standards) and the overall flamboyance of the 2002 vintage, it needs another 4-6 years of cellaring. This young, classic Cabernet Sauvignon represents the quintessential traditional school of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It possesses an inky/blue/purple color in addition to a tight, but promising nose of black currants, crushed rocks, earth and spice. Rich, full-bodied, pure and brilliantly executed, with perfect harmony, this is a sensational yet forebodingly backward, youthful Cabernet Sauvignon that needs 4-6 years of cellaring and should keep another quarter of a century.
The Wine Advocate