California’s vintages have been so close in recent years that it is always a treat to pick out selections from wineries that like to intentionally amplify the character differences from year to year. Since most wineries pride themselves in year-to-year consistency, these selections are relatively limited.
But one winery that has made significant contributions to this excellent philosophy of emphasizing character is Chateau Montelena. They’re small but mighty, sourcing fruit from some of Napa’s “sweetest spots” to back it up.
It all started for them with their Chardonnay win in the 1976 Paris Tasting competition and their production of outstanding wine variations has never stopped since. The Chateau’s dedicated staff will always say that what makes great wines are the fruit, winemaking and what nature did for the vintage each year. It shows.
That makes their Cabernet and Chardonnay a wine rack staple to keep on hand for guests who want to experience something distinctive and pleasantly unpredictable. And that is exactly what is happening with their 2008 Cabernet.
Right now, the ‘08 is tasting wonderfully with a brighter fruit character plus dark spices that are more intense when compared with many others from the same region and vintage. Even though it is fully capable of going 5-8 more years quite easily, it is a real treat with a succulent ribeye with loaded baked potatoes, staple food and drink!
You can find the ’09 and maybe the ’10 at Total Wine for under $43. It’s a fair price for such an exceptional wine. Their “estate wine” costs considerably more, but it will stand up to tough scrutiny from be snobbiest of red wine fans. That one will be ready to really enjoy in 2016.