2003 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon The Montelena Estate

Cabernet Sauvignon

  • USA
  • California
  • Napa Valley

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Community Tasting Note

  • oldwines Likes this wine: 94 points

    January 11, 2020 - In my cellar since release. Decanted at 4pm and after an initial quick taste the majority was tasted with 2-4 hours of air. This vintage was fairly hot and ripe in the later stages yet the ABV here was only 13.8% (so old school, thankfully). The wine is a bright medium garnet with no sign of bricking. Nose is very fresh, clean and effusive both initially and throughout the evening. There is ripe plum, graphite, a hint of vanilla, blackberry bramble, black tea and just a little mint along with a lot of dark chocolate later on in the evening. So complex and layered yet still young. As time goes on the nose just gets better and better. The palate is still a little tannic but early on is very hard and unyielding. After 3 hours it opens up with rich flavors and a brighter profile. Early on the palate seemed rather low in acidity and was very rich and velvety. Curiously (and somewhat typically in my experience) as time went on the palate seemed brighter and much more complex and layered. There was blackberry and ripe plum throughout but later there was more menthol, vanilla, chocolate and graphite minerality. As it got more air it actually tasted younger. Finish is long, lasting a good 45 seconds with the menthol and minerals most prominent. Best in the 3-4 hour period. Fantastic pairing with a local grilled Bison Ribeye (believe it or not there is a Bison Ranch in NJ...Readington River Buffalo Farm.) I was originally going to score this a 92, then a 93 and settled on 94 at the 4 hour point.

    5 people found this helpful 1,524 views


  • KillerJones commented:

    1/15/20, 7:13 PM - I really enjoyed your notes here.

    The '03 is a great example of Montelena's mastery of Cab, no?

    Full bodied, fruity, starting relatively light & smooth ...but finishing with a range of tastes that never disappoints.

    Bison rib-eye? You have added to my bucket list, sir.

  • oldwines commented:

    1/15/20, 7:31 PM - Yes! Bison is delicious...very low fat compared to beef...must be cooked rare or medium-rare. Gets tough otherwise.

    Montelena is the wine that hooked me on wine...the 1978 vintage in about 1982...I can still taste that wine with a pan seared duck breast! They too still keep to the old-school ways and do their best in these hot draught years to still make a balanced and elegant wine.

  • srh commented:

    2/11/20, 3:25 PM - KUDOS on the VERY *comprehensive* TN! :)

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