1990 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

The Montelena Estate is the new designation we are giving to our single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon. It is the wine we have called “Estate Bottled” since the 1978 vintage.

Over the course of the 1990 growing year the farming was more or less routine with two noteworthy exceptions; the "Memorial Day Massacre" of the Cabernet Bloom and the continuation of drought conditions.

The Memorial Day Massacre occurred when unseasonably heavy rains hit while the Cabernet vines were in bloom and flowering. This caused severe, deleterious effects on pollination and we lost about half of the crop. The fruit ripened early and easily due to the light crop. The rains we experienced in September arrived just in time and extended the season resulting in better fruit flavor development. Here is a direct quote from my Vintage Report, dated Dec. 20, 1990. "The fruit tasted very good and it will be a concentrated wine." Well, what do you know? Here it is, four years later, and what kind of wine do have?

93Wine Advocate
93International Wine Cellar
vintage weather

Temperate Consistent. Low rainfall, droughty conditions, then heavy rain during bloom reduced yield by 50%. Remaining year was routine with good ripening and good fruit development. Complex and concentrated wine.

tasting notes

The color is very dark ruby, almost black and the aromas have very intense, typical Montelena Estate characteristics of earthy, berry complex that is the hallmark of our vineyard. Interestingly, the cedar tones from the volcanic soils at the eastern side of the vineyard and the black olive from the richer soils are evident as background notes to the bouquet. The palate is also very full flavored with earth and berry, black cherry and plum. The wine is very complex and has fairly long flavor development. The structure is still slightly drying but will soften quickly over the next 12 months before settling down to a more even rate of maturation in the bottle.

We see a nice big tannin feel without any roughness due to our new and better de-stemmer. We think that, like all our previous vintages of Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, this one will reward those who wish to age it further, but the 1990 Montelena Estate represents for us a new benchmark for its balance of supple texture with full concentration of ripe fruit flavor.

After a special July 2010 tasting, wine journalist Laurie Daniel published her notes on this vintage: "Powerful, with ripe black fruit, hints of anise and cedar and firm but fine tannins."

Harvest Date September 10 to October 3
Barrel Aging 24 months
Bottling Date Spring 1993
Release Date Fall 1994
Cases Produced 9,500
Alcohol 13.5%