1985 Montelena Estate Zinfandel

The Zinfandel grown at Chateau Montelena shows the effects of different vintage years more clearly than any other variety. Very sensitive to high heat or excessive rain, Zinfandel always makes a dramatic stylistic statement. High heat years will give concentrated powerful wines while in a cool year the wine will be lighter with many layers of flavor. We at Montelena enjoy this dynamic aspect of winemaking. In the cellar we work to highlight each vintage’s individual “style”, an important part of our winemaking philosophy.

The 1985 Zinfandel is a wine that demonstrates this philosophy quite aptly. Vintage 1985 is very highly regarded, especially for Napa Valley red wines. A mild Spring ended with a brief hot spell and the summer that followed was moderately cool. During harvest however, we had over three inches of rain in a single untimely storm; a phenomenon that would ordinarily be disastrous to the crop, but the Zinfandel was under severe water stress so the rain actually turned out to be a blessing.

vintage weather

Cool variable. No late winter rains resulted in early bud-break with a long, moderate growing season. Dry, cool fall weather during crush, long harvest. Excellent fruit and balance.

tasting notes

The resulting wine is loaded with super berry fruit. It has a deep ruby red color as a result of the early ripening and has a nice balance of body and tannin. The dry year also imparted an "earthy" character to the wine which can be described as "vineyard character". A hint of oak from the barrel aging gives a wide variety to the flavor spectrum. It is an appealing wine now but we do recommend some additional bottle age and feel it will be best over the next two to four years.

Harvest Date September 5 to September 20
Sugar At Harvest 24.0º brix
Barrel Aging 12 months
Bottling Date April 1987
Release Date March 1988
Alcohol 14.0%