All the accolades heaped upon the 1984-85-86 Cabernet vintages in the Napa Valley have resulted in well informed wine lovers playing a unique version of 'Stump the Winemaker' by asking, "Which is the best vintage?" The praise for these vintages is truly well deserved. Our 1984 Cabernet is loaded with ripe, jammy fruit, the 1985 has elegance and finesse more often associated with wines of the 'old world'. For three years my answer to the above question has been that our 1986 displays the best characteristics of both the 1984 and '85 vintages. Oh yes... the answer to the burning question. Once the cork is in the bottle I become a consumer and I have personal preferences. The '84 and '85 are great wines, but I get the best of both in the '86.
This wine has the deep, dark, garnet color typical of our unique vineyard. The aroma has the distinct Montelena earthy-berry varietal fruit with hints of cedar from the soils on the eastern side of the vineyard. There is surprising complexity in the aromas and bouquet even at this early stage. The flavors are clear and distinct; soft berry, spicy Cabernet fruit, carried by the Montelena Estate vineyard's power and distinction. The firm structure is very smooth, owing to a longer time on the skins after fermentation. The soft tannins result from the exclusion of all press wine. Although this wine does not demand further aging in the bottle it will certainly become even more complex and rewarding to those who choose to age it to full maturity.
Actual bottle from our inventory is pictured. These bottles are in excellent condition for their age. To see other wines currently available from this producer, please click the link with the name of this producer underlined above, just to the right of "Producer."
August 199696 What a remarkable performance! I must admit that I purchased more of the 1985 and 1987, somehow neglecting to secure much of the 1986. Do I feel stupid? As I have written so many times in the past, every time I do a vertical tasting of Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignons, they taste better than my initial laudatory notes suggested. This great wine exhibits a black/purple color, a fabulous, sweet, pure, cassis-scented nose, massive body and richness, and total harmony among its components - fruit, wood, alcohol, acidity, and tannin. Still exceptionally youthful and vigorous, with no signs of age in either its color or taste, this 1986 could easily pass for a 3-4 year old California Cabernet. It is an extraordinary effort that appears to be a legitimate candidate for the "wine of the vintage." So what's new? Owners of this beauty should try a bottle for its pure, glorious richness, but this wine has 15-20 more years of delicious drinking. A bodacious Cabernet! The tasting notes for this section are from two single blind tastings, one conducted in May, 1996, in California, and the other in June, 1996, in Baltimore.
November 15, 199992 Big and robust, with lots of rich fruit and substantial tannins. A real mouthful.--Chateau Montelena vertical. Drink now through 2010.
International Wine Cellar
July 199891 Good deep fresh red. Very expressive, Graves-like aromas of roasted plums, hot bricks and tobacco. Sweet, expansive and pliant in the mouth, with a flavor of chestnut. Soft and accessible. Finishes with even, fine tannins and a note of syrupy red fruit. Barrett says he has always liked the '86 as much as the '87 or '85.