***1996 - 93 points***
A behemoth Cabernet Sauvignon is the stern, tannic, concentrated 1996 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (13.5% alcohol). Full-bodied, but closed, with gorgeously pure black fruits, powerful, loamy, earthy scents along with fruit and extract, this wine also needs 5-6 years of cellaring, and should easily last through the first 2-3 decades of the next century. 2005-2030
***1997 - 98 points***
There are 10,200 cases of the remarkable 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate. Opaque purple-colored with a dense, chewy, full-bodied personality, it displays abundant cassis, mineral, and earth notes. This brilliantly made, super-concentrated, pure, blockbuster possesses sweet tannin as well as a terrific finish. Having added additional weight since last year, this sumptuous, multilayered, profoundly concentrated Cabernet contains 14% alcohol. It is a candidate for 25-30 years of longevity. Anticipated maturity: 2003-2030.
***1998 - 93 points***
The 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (13,000 cases) will disprove all the naysayers about how bad the vintage was in the North Coast. It possesses an opaque ruby/purple color, a gorgeous perfume of loamy soil, new saddle leather, chocolate, and black cherry and black currant fruit, full body, and ripe tannin in the finish. As it sits in the glass, notes of cedar and spice box also emerge. Although more evolved than most Montelena Cabernets are at age 4, there is no doubting that it will still provide considerable pleasure at age 15 or 16. Kudos to the Barretts for producing this impressive 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, one of the vintage's few stars. 2002-2014
***1999 - 95 points***
The 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (an 8,600-case cuvee made from yields of 1.98 tons of fruit per acre) is considered by Bo Barrett to be a "great" year. The wine boasts a saturated inky/purple color as well as extraordinary density of fruit and cassis, and huge tannin, body, and extract. It is a substantial, palate-staining, long, muscular Cabernet that should only be purchased by connoisseurs with cold cellars as well as patience. Anticipated maturity: 2006-2030.
***2000 - 90 points***
The dense purple-colored 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc) reveals a sweet perfume of black currants, an expansive, full-bodied palate, surprising elegance as well as accessibility, excellent purity, and a long, layered finish. It is a successful 2000 Cabernet to drink now and over the next 12-15 years. 2003-2018
***2001 - 91+ points*** (92 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW)
Montelena’s backward, elegant, complex 2001 Estate reveals a dense ruby/purple color along with foresty, earthy notes intermixed with black currant characteristics as well as sweet tannin. Always a less ripe outlier (although it contains 14% natural alcohol), it will benefit from 2-3 more years of cellaring and should keep for at least 20 more years based on the extraordinary longevity Montelena Cabernet Sauvignons possess. 2014-2034
***2002 - 96+ points***
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. 2016-2041
***2003 - 94+ 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. 2013-2038
***2004 - 95 points***
A classic, old style Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, Montelena’s 2004 reveals beautiful purity along with lots of creme de cassis fruit, a full-bodied mouthfeel, and a long finish. By Montelena standards, it is a bit more powerful than usual (14.1% alcohol). These wines have an uncanny ability to age for 2-3 decades, and while the 2004 is slightly more forward and evolved than other vintages have been (2001 and 2002), it should last for 20-25 years. 2014-2039
***2005 - 93+ points*** (95 Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW)
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon at age ten is still a young, vibrant, dense ruby/purple -colored wine with lots of classic cassis fruit and a touch of earth undertones. It offers relatively soft and silky tannins by the standards of Montelena, but they’re there. It is full-bodied, rich and impressive. Cabernet Sauvignon from the northern end of the Napa Valley in Calistoga tends to be the St.-Estèphe of Napa. This wine is certainly one of the great ones. Forget it for another 3-4 years and drink it over the following 20-25. 2019-2044
***2006 - 91+ points***
The 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate appears to have completely shut down, not surprising as Montelena’s Cabernet Sauvignons typically need plenty of time. The 2006 reveals medium to full body, austere tannins and lots of red and black fruits, dusty, loamy soil undertones and a hint of herbs/tobacco leaf. Give it another 4-5 years of bottle age and drink it over the following 20+. 2014-2034
***2007 - 94+ points*** (95 Lisa Perrotti Brown MW)
A great wine in the making, the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (just under 10,000 cases produced) possesses a fragrant bouquet of sweet black currants, crushed rocks, earth and background oak. Full-bodied and dense, with Montelena’s typical power, tannin and reserved nature, this is a big, rich, formidably endowed red that requires 4-5 years of cellaring. That in itself is atypical of this exuberant, flamboyant vintage. Given this cuvee’s past history, this 2007 should age for 30+ years.