1985 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

Every year, after the lees settle and the leaves turn red and gold and fade away, we record that year’s story of our wines. Dave, our vineyard manager, and I write the terse and statistical “crush report” for the winery, a document for future reference which records the analysis of the growing year: weather data, tons per acre, juice chemistry, etc.

Since it is only used in-house there is no reasons for fluff or hype, here is a verbatim quote from the December 1985 report, "Continuous cool weather spaced our picking to two and three day intervals … Overall juice quality was excellent to outstanding. At this time I rate the weather effects during the growing seasons as excellent, maybe perfect. Flavors are very concentrated and rich … the flavors of the wine lots are highly varied and quality is excellent." Four years later, the wine has lived up to its early promise.

94Wine Advocate
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

This wine has the dark garnet color so typical of our Cabernet. The nose has the quintessential Montelena character of black cherry, loamy earth, and spice. 'Layered' is the best single term to describe both the bouquet, with chocolate and oak undertones, and the flavors which follow, earthy-berry fruit and many spicy complexities. Since 1985 was a cooler season the body is moderately textured. The wine is bright and bold in the front, tasty and smooth throughout, with lingering fruit on the finish, resulting in excellent balance. We feel this Cabernet is a very classical and traditional expression of our vineyard and though it drinks well now, it holds only greater promise for further development as it ages.

After a special July 2010 tasting,  wine journalist Laurie Daniel published her notes on this vintage: "Dense and youthful, with black cherry, anise and very firm tannins."

Harvest Date September 10 – October 9
Sugar At Harvest 23.45° brix
Barrel Aging 24 months
Bottling Date May 1988
Release Date September 1989
Cases Produced 9,723
Alcohol 13.5%