1989 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

1989 was one of the cooler recent vintages. We had measurable snowfall on the valley floor that winter and a cool spring, but some very good ripening during late September to October. Variations in the growing season are something we often deal with at the Montelena Estate by adapting our farming to Nature. That is the essence of our consistency – we truly make the wine in the vineyard. In 1989 our primary viticultural technique was crop thinning. This ensured thorough and even ripening of our Cabernet.

91Wine Advocate
vintage weather

Cool variable. Low rainfall and a cool spring, but warm weather late. Crop thinning insured even ripening. The wine is highly extracted with significant body and structure.

tasting notes

Our earlier-ripening, alluvial vineyard blocks provide the earthy backbone of this wine. These deep, gravel and cobblestone laden soils gave fruit that was very high in extract, yielding a very big wine. The grapes ripened with some water stress, so the wine is very concentrated.

The nose is complex, which shows the vintage, with earth and spice and intense Cabernet varietal character as a backdrop. More subdued in this vintage are the cedar tones from our volcanic soils and the berry fruitiness from our richer soils. There are also softer nuances of French oak and warm, vinous cellar aromas from the long-maceration lots, which include the Cabernet Franc.

The highly extractive nature of this droughty vintage shows on the palate with good, strong Cabernet flavors, dried currants and hints of coffee. The wine has significant body and structure, like vintages with similar weather, such as 1980 and 1982, and will benefit from further ageing. You will find it a good counterpart to substantial red-wine fare.

After a special July 2010 tasting, wine journalist Laurie Daniel published her notes on this vintage: "Plump, with ripe black fruit, cedar and firm tannins."

Harvest Date September 21 – October 11
Sugar At Harvest 23.5° brix
Barrel Aging 24 Months
Bottling Date May 1992
Release Date September 1993
Cases Produced 12,000
Alcohol 13.5%