1991 Montelena Estate Zinfandel

Overall, 1991 was a very good farming year. Even though we are in another drought this year, we received enough rain at the right times to see us through harvest. When it appeared that harvest was going to be very late, we thinned heavily late in the ripening season, losing little tonnage to ensure quality.

Zin is sometimes prone to uneven ripening, so after the majority of bunches had colored up, we went through the vineyard and removed all second crop and the lighter-colored, less mature bunches. Approximately 1 ton per acres was removed. This hastened the ripening process and improved the quality of the fruit. After thinning, we were blessed with excellent weather for ripening.

What we ended up with was a good growing year for Zin; not a warm monster year, but a vintage with a softer overall nature. Most of the wine's character comes from the vintage, as well as the fact that we used the de-stemmer only to crush the Zin, which allowed many whole grapes into the fermeneters. This made for a softer, berry varietal fruit character, and less middle tannins in the wine.

vintage weather

Cool. Light winter rains but good March precipitation helped soil moisture through to harvest. Cool growing season with warming right at harvest, so everything got nice and ripe. Fairly big crop with very good maturity and concentration of flavors.

tasting notes

This wine will clearly show that there is no other wine like Montelena Zin. It is of medium-ruby color and the nose leans more towards a spicy, aromatic mixture of berry, smoke, brambles, and earthiness from our twenty year old vines. The palate is lighter and more supple than most will expect from the '91 vintage. Here too, the wine is complex with berry and smoky flavors, and along, changing profile…not a tight, mouth-full of fruit and black pepper, but a softer, more evanescent vintage. It's somewhat difficult to describe…you'll just have to try it.

The supple, complex nature of this wine allows for a wonderful range of food pairing and rather than any single menu recommendation, we'll be trying it this summer at the 'Que with all kinds of grilled foods, from abalone to zucchini.

Harvest Date September 18 to September 24
Sugar At Harvest 24.3º brix
Barrel Aging 12 months
Bottling Date March 1993
Release Date March 1994
Alcohol 14.01%