1989 Napa Valley Chardonnay

The 1989 Chardonnay harvest for Chateau Montelena proved once again that in any growing season, many of the most important winemaking decisions are made in the vineyard; not only where the grapes are grown, but also how to maximize the potential of the vineyard in any given year.

Although 1989 had less than average rainfall, we reckoned if it were to ever rain again, it would be at the worst possible time, i.e., HARVEST! We reduced the crop in all our Chardonnay vineyards during the summer by taking off 30% of the grape clusters?a significant and expensive thing to do. However, with fewer grapes per vine, the fruit is tastier and ripens more easily. Our extra effort and diligence paid off handsomely in terms of wine quality. When the early harvest rains began in mid-September, all of the grapes for this Chardonnay were in the fermeneter. The excellent fruit yielded another world-class Chardonnay.

vintage weather

Cool variable. Low rainfall and a cool spring, but warm weather late. Crop thinning insured even ripening. The wine is highly extracted with significant body and structure.

tasting notes

This wine nicely shows the Montelena style of blending the complementary aromas and flavors of several vineyards for a depth of flavor and complexity. The backbone of the wine is the spicy, lemony, green-apple tone and like most of the cooler-ripening vintages, it is very perfumed in aroma. On the palate, the wine is smooth and fruity with layers of flavors following the bouquet. The wine is still quite youthful, but the many layers and depth indicate its potential for bottle aging. The cellar-induced complexities in the wine are now background hints of butterscotch and vanilla, which show the hint of oak that is the Montelena style. Additional aging will develop the richness that the Napa Valley fruit brings to the overall structure and the subtleties will become even more pronounced.

Harvest Date September 2 to Septemeber 12
Sugar At Harvest 23.4° brix
Barrel Aging 6 months
Bottling Date August 1990
Release Date Summer 1991
Alcohol 13.0%