It had been a hell of a week. I’d really earned my paycheck and was handling a sizable tax appeal which essentially meant herding cattle and trying to get people to do stuff lest something fall through the cracks and I get fired. This, on top of the whole back to school thing, and I was happy when the weekend finally came. OK, I was crawling to the finish line. But that just meant I deserved to treat myself, right?
I’d purchased the 1996 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon several months ago and I must admit it was like money burning a hole in my hand. I was just itching to open it. I knew it potentially had a few years left on it, but I was also looking for any opportunity to crack it open. Crazy work week = Open Chateau Montelena Cab. Done.
The Chateau Montelena winery is located in Napa Valley. It became famous when it’s Chardonnay was awarded the top scores in a bling tasting competition between French and California wines back in 1976. If you’re not into wine history, you may have seen the movie Bottleshock, which is a fictionalized account of the historic Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 or the “Judgment of Paris” as it became to be known.
Today, the winery is still known for its Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay and is just about on every must visit list of Napa wineries. I have vowed that this stunning estate will be on my list of places to visit when I’m next in Napa.
As we were opening a 1996 bottle, The Husband asked me what I’d been doing back in 1996 when these grapes were harvested. I had to think about it, but realized I was knee deep in law school. Hell, sorta? OK, so it wasn’t THAT bad, but I’m pretty sure that I had no clue about Chateau Montelena or its Cabs. Not sure if I’d even graduated up to box wine yet. Ahh, growth. This Cab was from the Montelena Estate vineyard. The Estate Cab goes for around $150 versus the “regular” Napa Valley Cab that goes for around $60. Twenty years and an hour of decanting and this one was still wound very tightly. I couldn’t pick up much but it still packed some nice acidity.
My initial thought when choosing this wine was that I would make a really nice dinner worthy of such a fine wine. But reality set in. Thing 1 and Thing 2 AND The Husband all acted if they were starving and hadn’t eaten in a month, so I made burgers. All good though as I wasn’t distracted by a “high maintenance” meal and could just sit and enjoy my wine. OK, and I can’t ever remember a time that I didn’t like a nice Cab with my burger. I like my burgers with Petite Sirah too.
After two and a half hours, it really started to open up.
Lots of dark cherry, blackberry jam and smoke on the nose. More bold, dark fruit, a bit of raisins, and smokiness on the palate. Just wow! Talk about some good juice. In the fourth hour, I was seriously in love.
It almost (almost) makes me want to exhibit some patience and let some of my other age worthy Napa Cabs sit for a couple of decades. Almost. And I’ll have to admit that I was secretly thrilled when The Husband poured himself a bourbon. More for me!