1986 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

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.

92Wine Advocate
vintage weather

Temperate Consistent. Heavy winter rains in February and March followed by a warm spring led to early bud-break. Growing season even longer than 1985. Wines rounder, softer than 1985; a few late season rains posed no major problems.

tasting notes

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.

After a special July 2010 tasting, wine journalist Laurie Daniel published her notes on this vintage: "Cedary aromas. Dark with black cherry, firm tannins and a long finish. Youthful."

Harvest Date September 28 – October 14
Sugar At Harvest 23.5° brix
Barrel Aging 24 months
Bottling Date June 1989
Release Date September 1990
Cases Produced 12,000
Alcohol 13.5%