1991 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

By now most wine lovers are well aware that the 1990 vintage is the first of five consecutive fine vintages that we have enjoyed in the Napa Valley. As I write this you need to know that the 1994’s are looking pretty fine so I’m going to sound a bit repetitious in these notes for the next few years as I describe the vintages and wines.

Overall, 1991 was a very good farming year. Even though we were in a drought, we received sufficient rain during the "March Miracle" to see us through harvest. It was a very cool year… the local wags characterized it as "four months of April and two weeks of summer." The season eventually warmed in September and we had a near normal harvest beginning the last week of September. We brought in a fairly big crop with very good maturity and concentration of flavors.

97Wine Advocate
93International Wine Cellar
vintage weather

Cool. Light winter rains but good March precipitation helped soil moisture through to harvest. Cool growing season with warming right at harvest, so everything got nice and ripe. Fairly big crop with very good maturity and concentration of flavors.

tasting notes

We were stoked about this wine from day one. All through its life in the cellar it had a super concentration of fruit and really smooth style, thanks to our new super precise de-stemmer installed in 1990. When you taste this wine, I think your first impression will be youthful softness, then concentration and richness. Still Montelena, but without the bitter tannin, and so smooth that we bottled this wine six months earlier than prior vintages. After twenty years of releasing our Cabernet in the fall, we have now changed to a spring release.

After one look at the inky color of this wine you will find the distinct Montelena Estate aroma on full display; jam, cassis, spice and earth from our complex soils. On the palate it has rich, round, varietal fruit held in a finely tuned grip of smooth tannin, a long developing body and fantastic perseverance of complex flavors. It is elegant and concentrated and so complex that if I try to describe it any more you'll think I've become a poet! Try it for yourself! We think the long-time Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon fans will recognize, as we do, that this wine is our new benchmark of excellence and sets the stage for wines yet to come from The Montelena Estate.

After a special July 2010 tasting, wine journalist Laurie Daniel published her notes on this vintage: "Very dark and dense, with ripe black fruit and a hint of cedar. Still very tight."

Harvest Date September 26 to October 16
Barrel Aging 20 to 24 months
Bottling Date August 1993
Release Date March 1995
Cases Produced 12,000
Alcohol 13.5%