Wine Talk

Snooth User: edwilley3

Blind Tasting this Weekend of 1988 Chateau Montelena

Posted by edwilley3, Nov 10, 2013.

My friend shocked us this weekend with a full blind tasting of what turned out to be a 1988 Chateau Montelena cab. Yes, 1988. If he had told us in advance we all would have said, "No thanks! Save it for a 'special' occasion."

Well, this bottle had a nearly perfect cork with no seepage. Color would have been good for a 10 year old wine. None of us guessed 80s California anything. It was very confusing on the opening, but within about 15 minutes it started to make a little more sense. The tannins were still significant and it had a fair amount of acid. But the fruit hadn't fully faded. Somehow the once over the top tannins had faded to the point of making it very...quaffable?

Here's the 1993 note from Parker:

Montelena's 1988 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate is one of the most tannic, densest wines of the vintage, but I am somewhat alarmed by the high level of tannins. This bruiser is boldly flavored, but the tannins are hard and astringent, making one wonder if everything will come into balance. I remember having similar reservations about their 1983 which is now beginning to drink well.

So here's the question: Did the "bruiser" nature keep this thing so well preserved - in addition to cellaring of course - over the years?


Reply by SecretSanta, Nov 10, 2013.

Big is fine as long as it is balanced big in my experience. The whole package just seems to evolve over a longer period of time.

Nice Friend!

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 11, 2013.

The big tannins and acidity helped it age that long. No way today's Montelena tastes like that in 25 years. Was just a more classic winemaking style that was prevalent back then.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 11, 2013.

So that's a 25 year old bottle.  I'll let you know in about 9 years when we drink my older girl's birth year Montelena.  If it's too faded, we have a Dunn from the same year--playing the two ends of the spectrum

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