Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon
|Region||California, United States|
|Grape||Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc|
|Brand||Chateau Montelena Winery|
The year 2009 was the first of three cool vintages; there was a long, very moderate growing season and a long steady harvest which allowed for fantastic flavor development in all of the Cabernet vineyards. The cooler weather throughout the summer made for great growing conditions (and high yields) and then, in September, there was just enough warm weather to bring the fruit to full ripeness. The absence of any major heat events during the summer and during harvest resulted in lower-than normal sugars, great balance, and no issues with shriveling fruit – perfect conditions for the classic,
Montelena style of wines.
This Cabernet is deep ruby in color with massive extraction and great density. The nose opens with huge intensity, great depth, and lots of layers. Big fruit aromas of black cherry, bright red berries, and plums all lead into the barrel notes of toasty oak, vanilla, and smoky undertones. The palate entry opens smoothly and builds predictably with big, firm (but not coarse) tannin, good acid balance and lots of structure. There is a great progression from ripe, sweet cherry and plum fruit up-front to rich, dried black fruit and spice on the finish – with the vanilla and spice
from the barrel layering in seamlessly.
Harvest dates Sept. 21 to Oct. 28
Blend: 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Barrel Aging 14 months
French and Eastern European, 14% New
Bottling Date April 2011
Release date Spring 2012
Chateau Montelena’s rich history began on a chilly fall morning when Alfred L. Tubbs spaded over and inspected the soil where he thought of planting estate vineyards. He had heard the Napa Valley was the best place to grow grapes in California. A deal was struck, and in January of 1882 the San Francisco entrepreneur owned 254 acres of rugged land just two miles north of Calistoga at the base of Mount Saint Helena. The soils are well drained, stony and loose – perfect for the vines he would plant.
It took less than a decade to turn his dream into reality. First Tubbs planted his vineyards, then he built his Chateau, and in 1886 he imported a French-born winemaker. By 1896 his winery, then called A.L. Tubbs Winery, was the seventh largest in the Napa Valley. Like many other wineries in the area, winemaking at the Chateau came to an end with Prohibition. After Prohibition was repealed in 1933, Tubbs’ grandson, Chapin Tubbs, continued the family’s venture harvesting the vineyard, making some wines and selling grapes to other wineries and home winemakers. In 1940, Chapin rechristened the winery as Chateau Montelena Winery, a contraction of Mount St. Helena.
Two years after Chapin Tubbs’ death in 1947, winemaking was discontinued, and Chateau Montelena would not function as a winery for nearly two decades. The Tubbs family sold the Chateau in 1958, at which time the stone building and its overgrown grounds passed into the hands of Yort and Jeanie Frank who were looking for a peaceful spot to retire. The Franks emigrated from Hong Kong prior to World War II and had been living in Southern California where Frank was an electrical engineer. The Chateau inspired Frank to excavate a lake and landscape the grounds to reflect the Chinese gardens of his homeland. Today, Jade Lake is considered one of Napa Valley’s most beautiful sanctuaries, home to a variety of fish and wildlife, and surrounded by weeping willows and native fauna.
The next chapter began with the renaissance of Chateau Montelena Winery and the Estate vineyard in the early 1970’s. Under the leadership of Jim Barrett, the vineyard was cleared and replanted, and the Chateau outfitted with modern winemaking equipment. He assembled a team to oversee the vineyard and winemaking, then grew and contracted for the highest-quality grapes in the Napa Valley. In 1972 wines were made for the first time. Decades later, this celebrated family-owned winery continues to thrive with Jim’s son Bo Barrett at the helm