There is so much perfume in this wine: fresh flowers and lavender are bolstered by ripe plum, sandalwood and cherry compote. There's also an incredibly appealing note of Earl Grey or bergamot that lifts the entire aromatic profile. Lingering behind the fruit is where the action starts as black pepper, vanilla, crushed rock and soy are revealed with patience.
The bright, zesty acidity of the vintage is immediately apparent as the fruit on the palate leans toward raspberry and cranberry, at least initially. They're followed by a rush of chalky, angular tannins that at first frame the acidity, but then serve to mellow it. Here, the fruit turns dark once again; but this time it expresses as blueberry jam and ripe blackberry before ushering in more savory notes of cedar and mint that are very characteristic of Montelena Cabernet. There is no doubt that this is a young wine that will need a few years of cellaring before coming into balance. That said, the freshness and purity of the vineyard character are very enticing, even at this stage.
The flagship wine of Chateau Montelena sourced from the winery's estate vineyard adjacent to the chateau near the base of Mount St Helena. Compact and restrained at first; give it some air and good things will come. Bright red-toned fruits and dried wild herb notes are tethered to rich cedar spices. Well-endowed with impressive depth and concentration, particularly evident in the mid-palate which is weighted by crushed stones and earthen minerality. Elongated tannins are crisp while acids are firm and tangy. Those capable of looking past its upfront approachability will be rewarded with patience as this wine will evolve and shine over the next four decades.
I tasted the soon-to-be-released 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate from two bottles, one freshly opened and one that had been opened the day before. Both were clearly outstanding, with the freshly opened bottle being just a bit tighter and less luxuriously textured but obviously packed with potential. Mixed currants and cherries appear on the nose, joined by hints of dark chocolate, while the palate is medium to full-bodied, rich, expansive and velvety, with a lingering, mouthwatering finish.