2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

The 2001 vintage was one of mixed blessings; woefully low yields but very high quality grapes. A combination of spring frost damage and shatter from May heat greatly reduced the size of the crop, but the vineyards produced grapes with intensely concentrated flavors and terrific ripeness levels.

Mild temperatures in March led to an early bud break, with most of the buds out by the first week in April. Then the first (and worst) of several frosts hit on April 3rd, damaging many of the new shoots. Following the cold weather in April, May was warm again, with a heat spell during bloom causing "shatter", which is the failure of the fruit to "set", or pollinate. These two factors were the main culprits behind the vintage's extremely low crop levels. June, July and August were all characterized by consistent, mild weather generally, and this favorable weather pattern continued all the way up to harvest.

The weather during the critical ripening and flavor development period was especially luxurious. We could let the grapes just hang there, slowly getting perfectly ripe, without risking excessive heat or precipitation. The long hang-time and ideal harvest conditions yielded beautifully ripe grapes with fully mature skin tannin and loads of complex fruit flavors.

vintage weather

Temperate Consistent. Well below average rainfall. Frost damage followed by high heat in May that caused some shatter kept yields low. Remainder of season was mild and grapes attained full maturity before picking. Started night picking to increase fruit integrity. Wines are very rich, well-balanced, and full.

tasting notes

This wine boasts a strong Cabernet fruit aroma, with cassis, dark summer berries, and notes of licorice. The big, dense aroma also has an earthy component which reflects the characteristics of the Calistoga area where most of the grapes are grown. The palate is big, full-bodied and rich, yet round and soft overall, showing smooth texture but still substantial tannins. The flavors echo the aroma, with sweet black fruits as well as licorice, menthol, and earthy tones. The supple yet powerful Montelena signature finish shows that this wine is smooth enough to be delicious while young, but has the structure to lay down in your cellar, too.

Harvest Date Cabernet Sauvignon September 10-October 12; Merlot September 8-19
Sugar At Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 22.7º to 25.2º brix, Merlot 23.3º to 24.2º brix
Blend 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot
Barrel Aging 18 to 20 months
Bottling Date Spring 2003
Release Date Fall 2004
Cases Produced 8,700
Alcohol 14.0%