The premise behind Montelena’s flagship wine is decidedly simple: it’s unapologetically Montelena. With over 40 years of experience in this dynamic and distinctive vineyard, the winery’s team has recognized the value of blazing their own trail outside of conventions and norms. It takes confidence in the land as well the people, farming, and winemaking to buck the trends and fads that morph and meander through the wine world. Talk to anyone on the Montelena team and you’ll hear them say that most of all, the winery sets a high standard for themselves, not relative to the rest of Napa Valley or the vintage expectations, but based on their own potential and drive to make this wine better every year. It is is not without risk, and is certainly not the easy path to take, but it’s inherently part of who they are.
Incredibly floral and opulent, the red berry character of this vintage, mostly Bing cherry and raspberry while young, is buttressed by rich notes of cocoa, hazelnut, and Earl Grey. Black pepper and cedar complement this freshness exquisitely. Dense but light on its feet, the contrast of velvety tannins and bright acid bookend a youthful and vibrant palate, chock full of blackberry sorbet, plum sauce, and strawberry jam. Fresh fig and marzipan lend richness and texture while stitching these disparate forces into a cohesive yet lively experience. Baking spices abound on the finish along with coffee bean, star anise, and an almost caramel-like sweetness that dovetails beautifully with fresh blueberry and cinnamon.
“The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is dark, ample and totally seductive. Black cherry, mocha, plum, spice, new leather and tobacco all meld together. Pliant and supple, the 2016 is already incredibly delicious. This is an especially mid-weight wine and style. Accordingly, the 2016 Estate will drink well with minimal cellaring. The Estate was bottled just two months before this tasting. I imagine it will put on some weight with further time in bottle. All the elements appear to be in the right place for that to happen.”
94+ points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Dec 2018