Still an infant that needs even more cellaring, the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is an incredible Cabernet Sauvignon that brings to mind the 1991 Dominus (maybe not quite as voluptuous). Still vibrant and youthfully color, it has textbook notes of blackcurrants, cedar, lead pencil shavings and crushed rock-like minerality. Elegant, yet powerful and concentrated, with plenty of structure, it needs an hour decant if drinking anytime soon, and has another two to three decades of longevity.
This appears to be one of the great efforts from Chateau Montelena, something I think I was correct about when I gave it an 'in the bottle' rating in 2006 of 95+. It is still an amazingly young wine that came from old vines on the famous St. George rootstock that did not require replanting because of the phylloxera epidemic that swept through Napa in the late 1980's and 1990's. Despite its lofty 14.4% alcohol (high by Montelena standards) and the overall flamboyance of the 2002 vintage, it needs another 4-6 years of cellaring. This young, classic Cabernet Sauvignon represents the quintessential traditional school of Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. It possesses an inky/blue/purple color in addition to a tight, but promising nose of black currants, crushed rocks, earth and spice. Rich, full-bodied, pure and brilliantly executed, with perfect harmony, this is a sensational yet forebodingly backward, youthful Cabernet Sauvignon that needs 4-6 years of cellaring and should keep another quarter of a century. (RP) 96+
Good deep ruby-red. Highly aromatic nose combines musky redcurrant and tobacco. Plush, broad and fine-grained; atypically sexy and showy for this wine, in much the same way that Montelena's basic 2002 Napa Cabernet is unusually pliant and rich. Finishes with big, dusty, but rather suave tannins. This offers early accessibility but has the material and structure for extended aging. The alcohol here is 14.3%, the highest since the 1978, which was 14.4%.
Right now this wine is strutting its stuff, showing dense, fudge-like scents of tobacco, cassis and whiffs of vanilla and coconut and flavors of blackberry with lashings of vanilla and cocoa. But like many vintages of Montelena, expect this one to shut down in another year only to reemerge as a beauty around age 10 or 12. Another classic. *Cellar Selection* (JC)
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