Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Chateau Montelena Winery, originally called A.L. Tubbs winery after its founder Alfred Tubbs, was constructed in 1888 and intended as a barrel-aging facility. The Chateau was unique in materials, plan, size, and style for its era. In nineteenth-century Napa Valley, the majority of wineries were constructed of wood. Instead, the Chateau is made of stone with walls three to twelve feet thick, which provides natural insulation against outside heat or cold. Similarly, the structure built into a hillside, to further regulate temperature - something necessary for producing quality wines but uncommon at the time. Also rare among Napa Valley wineries, the Chateau resembles an English Gothic castle gatehouse complete with rusticated stone walls, battlement with crenels and merlons, narrow arched windows, large arched door in the place of a portcullis, and bartizans with faux arrow slits.
Accounts of the stone winery’s designer, masons and source of materials vary. The design has been attributed to Hamden McIntyre, a well-known local winery designer; however, some sources also suggest that while in Europe, Tubbs hired a French architect to draw plans for the building, brought back French masons to build it, and imported European stone for the walls. Other accounts suggest the design was inspired by the Cellar of Chateau Lafite in France.Aged for 18 months in French oak, this is Montelena's flagship wine. Luscious and rich on the nose with great depth, look for violets, cassis, dark cherry, warm leather, cocoa, wet stone and molasses notes. The palate opens with red raspberry and blackcurrants before building to mouth-filling ripe cherry, a beautiful acid balance, and round rich velvety tannins. The incredible intensity of the palate fades slowly leaving a finish of dried fruits and hints of clove with remarkable weight and tremendous persistence.
Wine AdvocateFrom bottle a solid 93. Surprisingly lush and charming for a young Montelena, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate has a deep ruby/purple color, with earthy, black cherry and blackcurrants. The wine has very ripe tannins, and is medium to full-bodied with outstanding purity and balance. Most Montelena estate Cabernets have traditionally required patience, but this one is set for drinking now and over the next 20 years.
Wine SpectatorExhibits what one might call marginally good funk, with a dank, earthy, chalky limestone edge that overshadows but doesn't obliterate the tart, juicy currant and dark berry flavors. Ends mulchy, but somehow cleans up sufficiently to merit a passing grade. Drink now through 2026.