95 Robert Parker
2018 - 2042
Deep garnet colored, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate displays a very slowly evolving nose of crème de cassis, chocolate-covered cherries, vanilla pod and smoked meats with touches of dried Provence herbs, cedar chest and cloves. Medium-bodied, plush, rich and generously fruited in the mouth, it has a wonderfully spicy character and long baking spice and black fruit-laced finish.
The iconic Gothic stone winery now known as Chateau Montelena was originally built by Alfred Tubbs in the 1880s. It was purchased by Jim and Judy Barrett in the early 1970s. The property came with around 100 acres of vines, but rather surprisingly, there was no Cabernet Sauvignon planted. At that time, it was believed that Calistoga was too warm to produce high quality Cabernet, and so the Estate vineyard was mainly planted to Zinfandel and Rhône varieties. In 1972 and 1974, Jim Barrett grubbed up a lot of the old vines and began planting Cabernet Sauvignon. Meanwhile, the Cabernets produced in 1974 and 1975 were prototypes, using purchased fruit from Sonoma, Alexander Valley and Napa Valley, until the Estate vineyard began to come online. 1973 was the first vintage that Jim’s son, Bo Barrett, helped with on the estate, and today he remains in charge as CEO and master winemaker. “We used a lot more acid back then,” Bo Barrett commented, “than we do now. I think you can still taste a bit of stems in these early wines too. It was around 1990 that we got a new destemmer.” In fact, his comment explains the slightly tart, disjointed acid on the 1974 and 1975 vintages as well and the somewhat rustic/astringent nature of the tannins prior to 1990. These wines were tasted in January 2018 as part of a historical tasting of five decades of Montelena wines. All the wines were poured from magnums.