The wine is a typically bright ruby red, with opaque density and color, which leads to a nice array of aromas: sweet black currant jam, with hints of black cherry and flowers. There is much fruit in the nose, not unexpected considering the excellent ripeness achieved in this vintage. The unique blend of soils in our vineyard leads to very pleasing layers of complexity, and I particularly like the evident menthol-cedar note attributable to the volcanic soil component. On the palate it delivers intense, broad and sweet fruit, layered with spicy cherry, and even a bit of chocolate. The overall structure is ripe and rich, pure and well delineated. It is very much in the Montelena Estate style, in which vineyard flavors drive the wine. It is a very structured Cabernet from a great growing year, and it will greatly reward you after a few more years of cellaring.
Wine Advocate 90 points - A big wine from the Barrett family (14.2% alcohol), this 2003 exhibits earthy black currant fruit, the restrained but intense Montelena style, full body, good richness and impeccable balance, purity and density. The color is a healthy dark ruby/purple and the wine shows lots of cassis. In spite of the restrained aromatics, the palate is rich, full-bodied, substantial and persuasive. This 2003 is approachable now, but it will be even more gorgeous 15, 20 and 25 years from now. This is a heritage wine from this great estate in northern Napa Valley.
Wine Spectator 87 points - Firm and dry, this is marked by chewy tannins. The core currant, pencil lead and dusty berry flavors are well-focused and long on the finish. The tannic strength and dryness are my major concerns. Decant. The best of two bottles tasted. Drink now through 2013. 12,000 cases made. –JL
Located just north of Calistoga in Napa Valley, California, Chateau Montelena is an iconic estate whose name is synonymous
with excellence. Founded in 1882 by Alfred L. Tubbs, this businessman steadily increased production until Prohibition, after
which the property fell into disrepair. In 1958, Yort and Jeanie Frank purchased the estate and slowly transformed it into the
beautiful property that it is today.
When the Barrett family bought the property in 1972, James Barrett focused his attention on restoring the vineyards, winery
and cellar. Chateau Montelena is a true family affair – James’s son Bo is Montelena’s master winemaker and for more than 30
years he has consistently created benchmark wines in the house style. Other key members of the winemaking team include
winemaker Cameron Parry, assistant winemaker Matt Cratfon and vineyard manager Dave Vella.
The now famous Paris tasting of 1976 placed Chateau Montelena at the forefront of the wine world and the family continues to
build upon its legacy of excellence and dedication to terroir-driven, authentic wines.
|Wine maker notes
|From start to finish, the 2003 growing season in our Estate Cabernet vineyards was a fine one. A warm March evolved into a rainy month of April, setting the stage for excellent vine health and growth later into the year. This is an especially important factor in the “heart” of the Montelena Estate Cabernet vineyard because these blocks possess very well drained soils. Our older Estate vines don’t naturally produce very much fruit, so a little extra water early on can be quite the elixir for the longer term.
|Harvest Dates: Sept. 21 to Oct. 29
Bottling Date: December 2005
Release Date: March 2007
Cases Produced: 12,000
Barrels: 25% new French
Time in Oak: 22 months
Sugar at Harvest: 23.6 to 25.2 brix