1991 Napa Valley Chardonnay

The cold winter and spring of 1991 delayed all critical phases of the entire growing season. The summer weather was cooler than normal and we like to say we had four months of April and two weeks of summer. The ripening season kept the cooler-than-normal pattern, so we had very nice and even maturation of fruit. The Chardonnay harvest did not really get going until the last week of September. This is about two weeks behind a late normal vintage, and close to a month behind a regular harvest.

These cool vintages are especially beneficial to the fruit flavors, balance, and structure of Chardonnay. An old saw is that a slowly maturing grape gives a long-lived wine. In our twenty years of fine Chardonnay at Montelena, we've seen this phenomenon before…and we're stoked! We're sure what has happened to our wines from cool vintages of the past will follow true with this one, too.

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

In its youth, this wine has nice, bright, fruity varietal Chardonnay aroma of pear with tones of honeysuckle and grapefruit. You get hints of vanilla oak and yeast in the background as the wine warms and opens up in the glass, showing the promise of the young wine. The palate is very fresh, appley Chardonnay fruit-not heavy at all, even though it is very full-bodied and strongly structured. The acid balance is one of the things we look for and this is a good example of Napa Valley Chardonnay in a very cool and very promising vintage.

We are excited about this wine and think it will really show super development during the first couple of years' aging. It has the potential to match some of our ten-year-plus "Killer" Chardonnays like the 1973, '73, '79, and '85 vintages. They tasted great at release time-balanced, but intense in their youth-and later on…

Harvest Date September 18 to October 10
Sugar At Harvest 23.5° brix
Barrel Aging 6 months
Bottling Date August 1992
Release Date September 1993
Cases Produced 14,000
Alcohol 13.5%