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Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.
This vertical tasting six-pack comes complete with two bottles of each of the 2002, 2003 and 2004 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the glass, our 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.
The 2003 Estate Cabernet is a typically bright ruby red, with opaque density and color, which leads to a nice array of aromas: sweet black currant jam, with hints of black cherry and flowers. There is much fruit in the nose, not unexpected considering the excellent ripeness achieved in this vintage. The unique blend of soils in our vineyard leads to very pleasing layers of complexity, and I particularly like the evident menthol-cedar note attributable to the volcanic soil component. On the palate it delivers intense, broad and sweet fruit, layered with spicy cherry, and even a bit of chocolate. The overall structure is ripe and rich, pure and well delineated.
The Montelena earthy-berry aroma is very concentrated in the 2004, showing lovely, classic Cabernet, warm earth and sun baked cassis with licorice and spice. On the palate there is integration of strong, deep, concentrated fruit in a perfect balance. Super fine tannin grips the palate, with ripe, round flavors that dance right on the seam between classic Bordeaux and California styles.
"2002: The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is a remarkably rich but still backward red. It will benefit from 5-8 more years of cellaring, and should last for three decades. The full-bodied, intense, dense ruby/purple-colored 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate reveals a closed, reticent bouquet of minerals, creme de cassis, and spice. This rich, full-bodied effort should be going strong 20-30 years from now.
2003: While the 2002, which was quite extroverted right before bottling, has shut down, the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is still open-knit, although I suspect it will probably close down as well. It exhibits an opaque ruby/purple color along with a sweet, spicy nose of black currants, licorice, herbs, and damp earth. Rich and concentrated, it is the most accessible, and possibly the most elegant and French-oriented of the Cabernets produced between 2002 and 2004. This top-notch effort should be cellared for 2-3 years, and consumed over the following 20-25 years.
2004: The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, all from their old vineyards in Calistoga. This is a dense, ruby/purple-tinged wine with full body, and despite the softness of the general vintage, Montelena has plenty of structure. Like nearly every vintage of their top Cabernet Sauvignon, it will last for 25 or more years. The wine has sweet tannin in a broad, flavorful, concentrated style with plenty of black currant, licorice, and spice. The wine is beautifully textured, slightly more forward than most Montelena Cabernets tend to be. It is another beauty from probably the most consistent winery for Cabernet Sauvignon over the last three decades.
The Wine Advocate
"2002: Right now this wine is strutting its stuff, showing dense, fudge-like scents of tobacco, cassis and whiffs of vanilla and coconut and flavors of blackberry with lashings of vanilla and cocoa. But like many vintages of Montelena, expect this one to shut down in another year only to reemerge as a beauty around age 10 or 12. Another classic.Cellar Selection"
"2002: Good deep ruby-red. Highly aromatic nose combines musky redcurrant and tobacco. Plush, broad and fine-grained; atypically sexy and showy for this wine, in much the same way that Montelena's basic 2002 Napa cabernet is unusually pliant and rich. Finishes with big, dusty, but rather suave tannins. This offers early accessibility but has the material and structure for extended aging. The alcohol here is 14.3%, the highest since the 1978, which was 14.4%.Rating: 93
2003: Good full ruby. Very pure flavors of cassis, blackberry and licorice. Dense, rich and pure, with quintessential cabernet flavors of cassis and licorice. Like a finer-grained, fleshier version of the classic but tightly wound 2001. As rich as it is, this also boasts terrific inner-palate energy. Carries a distinctly moderate 13.8% alcohol. Finishes with big but ripe tannins and superb length. This should age for 15 to 20 years.Rating: 93
2004: Good bright ruby-red. Aromas of cassis, licorice, dark chocolate and menthol. Dense, thick and powerful, with a chewy texture and impressive concentration to the plummy fruit. This has a silky texture but no shortage of inner-mouth energy. Finishes long and aromatic, with late-arriving tannins. In spite of Barrett's description of the "Aussie-like surmaturite" that figured in the harvest of 2004, I am not put off by a hot-vintage character. Rating: 93"
International Wine Cellar
Chateau Montelena was founded in 1882 by Alfred Tubbs. The renaissance of the winery, under the leadership of James Barrett, began in 1972 with the replanting of the Estate vineyard and the establishment of the Chateau Montelena philosophy: make the best, period. Today the tradition continues. Jim Barrett’s son, Bo, winemaker at Chateau Montelena beginning in 1982, is now its Master Winemaker. After more than three decades of experience with the same vineyards and varieties, the Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Chardonnay are recognized as world-class.
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard...Read More About Napa Valley
(cab-uhr-NAY sow-veeh-yawn) King of Red Many refer to Cabernet Sauvignon as the king of red grapes. Perhaps that title is due to its ability to grow worldwide in a number of climates, or to the fact that it produces wine with such character yet such diversity. Either way, this grape is responsible, as a whole or a partner, for some of the greatest wines in the world. In Bordeaux,...Read More About Cabernet Sauvignon
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