Review: 2009 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

Chateau Montelena is a winery that probably needs no introduction to most wine drinkers, but in case you’re a newb, it’s the winery made the Chardonnay that beat out all of Burgundy in the famed Paris Tasting of 1976.

Today, Montelena is probably better known for its Cabernet Sauvignon, and we recently snagged the 2009 vintage for review.

It’s a surprisingly wonderful wine, ready to drink now and far from overcooked. (At just 13.8% alcohol, it’s practically a lightweight compared to its local competition and balanced perhaps by 13% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc.) The nose: Ripe and fragrant, with a modest touch of leather. On the palate: Absolutely fresh fruit, strawberries, raspberries, and plums, with just a touch of currant character. What tannin is here is well integrated now, leaving you with just a bit of mouth puckering tartness on the finish. It’s welcome after such a fruit-forward, but far from sweet, Cabernet — and that creates a wine with surprisingly good balance.

I’d written off Montelena years ago, but here’s the proof that this legendary winery is still making near-classic wines.

A- / $50 / montelena.com


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