1998 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

The 1998 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ripened late with a good crop. We had very cold, rainy weather throughout the early to middle growing season that set us up for a late vintage. There was virtually no spring; it just went from winter to summer, but not until July! Happily it ended up very well, even great, with miraculous ripening weather all of October. The Cabernet Sauvignon we saw was literally perfect - it doesn't get any better - with great flavors, ripeness and very good chemistry. The berry size was relatively normal, textbook fruit. We see the intensity of the vintage being very classic Cabernet Sauvignon; extremely well proportioned in weight and acid-tannin balance. Fermentation was clean and strong and the maceration range was generally 8 to 11 days. The skin to juice ratio was high so extraction was very good - many tanks were black by day two. It was an excellent vintage for all of our Cabernet vineyards.

Due to the long season some fields showed water stress, but at levels we have experienced before and which actually enhance wine quality. The water stress was caused not so much by heat, as in a hot vintage, but by the prolonged season. The leaves and canopy simply ran out of gas. The very cold nights and warm days were ideal, so we have another great vintage from the Chateau.

93Wine Advocate
vintage weather

Cool. Well above average rainfall, cold and rainy throughout the early to middle growing season. Warm and dry July and August, cool September and wonderful ripening weather in October. Average crop size, great flavors and ripeness, extremely well balanced.

tasting notes

The wine has the typical dark Montelena color and density in the glass. The ripe fruit comes across with big and spicy varietal characteristics, lots of cassis and earth. It is elegant from the moderated cool year, but also ripe from the warm end of the season. The tannins are supple and elegant. With the amount of big fruit on the palate it is quite soft on the entry and then firms up to the rich and layered finish. It is stylistically along the lines of the smoother, very well balanced long season vintages like 1979, 1985, 1991 & 1995.

After a special July 2010 tasting, wine journalist Laurie Daniel published her notes on this vintage: "Dark and elegant, with lively black fruit and a hint of cedar. Very good wine from a much-maligned vintage."

Harvest Date October 13 to 30
Sugar At Harvest 23.6° to 24.5° brix
Barrel Aging 18 to 20 months
Bottling Date August 2000
Release Date March 2002
Cases Produced 11,500
Alcohol 13.5%