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.
Not a wine for drinking now or anytime soon. It’s so hard in tannins, it basically locks down the palate, and the astringency seems to accentuate the acidity and dryness. However, there is a deep core of blackberry essence and, after all, this is Montelena. All indications are that it will be a terrific wine in another 8 or 10 years.
Another great, ageworthy Chard from this venerable Napa winery. Balanced, rich and fruity, with all the spicy, creamy complexities you’d expect from pull-out-the-stops winemaking. The ripe sweetness shines through on the palate, made complex with oak and buttery notes.
Too young to enjoy now. The tannins and acids are such that they lock the wine down. The fruit tastes sharp and jammy, and the alcohol, even though it isn’t high, sticks out. But it’s all there, including oodles of blackberries, cherries, licorice and spice. Needs time. Give it until 2009.
Quite rich and exotic, with complex, appealing flavors of cocoa puff, mocha, buttered cinnamon toast, blackberry granola and smoky cedar. This richness finishes drily, but the wine is very tannic, giving it a lock-down astringency. Needs time. Best after 2011, and through 2015 or so.
The historic estate’s 1998 is characteristically lean, angular and fairly closed. The bouquet of apple cider, anise, and fragrant jasmine-like notes opens to a trim palate of green apple and toast flavors, and a taut mouthfeel. Tart apple and oak, plus a flinty, mineral element play on the finish. Notoriously tight when young, this wine often opens incredibly with…
Montelena’s first Zin since 1994, from estate grapes. Fully ripe and exuberant, a robust wine with cherry and spice flavors that is dry and balanced. Possesses Zin’s inherently wild and briary character, but brings as much elegance as the varietal is capable of.
There’s some bitterness in this young Cab, enough to interfere with the blackberry and cherry-herb fruit. Tastes very dry, with puckery-astringent tannins. It’s quite a good, rich wine, in a rustic way, and should age for some time, but lacks an essential richness.