2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2003 was a fine growing season for our Napa Valley Cabernet vineyards. A warm March encouraged the vines to begin their growth and April rains replenished the moisture content in in soils, especially important in our dry-farmed vineyard blocks. Spring weather thus insured excellent vine health and growth later in the season. Consistently moderate weather prevailed for most of the summer, ending with a moderate heat wave that signaled harvest had arrived.

During a lengthy crush, such as we had in 2003 when we picked Cabernet over a 45 day period, harvest weather can play a significant role in the ultimate character of the finished wine. In fact, we had two distinct harvests, the first a result of the heat in September when we picked our droughty dry farmed vineyards with excellent ripeness, along with all the Merlot, the second later in October after the rest of our vineyards reached maturity with superb fruit chemistry. We were fortunate that stable ripening conditions prevailed.

90Wine Advocate
vintage weather

tasting notes

In the glass the wine has a nice dark ruby red color. The complex aromas show the influence from both the moderate and the warm periods of this long vintage. The wine has very pronounced ripe jammy fruit aromas of plum and black currant that display the warmth of the vintage. Less obvious Cabernet tones of licorice and earthy complexity from the cool middle of the season lurk under the more obvious notes of fruit. On entry this Cabernet is very round and full, while the mid-palate yields a graceful weight and balance with soft tannins. Notes of pepper add complexity to the smooth, rich cassis dominated flavors. Characteristic of Montelena Cabernet, there is a nice, finely polished tannic structure to the lengthy finish. As we release this wine in the Spring of 2006 it will require a few minutes to show its fullness, but as we move past Spring and Summer our 2003 vintage will flow from the bottle.

Harvest Date Cabernet Sauvignon: Sept. 19 to Nov. 1/Merlot: Sept. 19 to Sept. 2
Sugar At Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon: 23.5 to 25.1 brix/Merlot: 24.6 to 25.3 brix
Blend 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot
Barrel Aging 20% new French
Bottling Date May 2005
Release Date March 2006
Cases Produced 14,000