Check out the new, mobile-friendly!

A Mature Red in a Young Neighborhood

Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley The Montelena Estate 1999
Thomas Matthews
Posted: August 19, 2010

My birthday came around, as they do whether we like it or not, but there were some consolations. Chief among them, a dinner with good friends Rosemary and Jim at The Good Fork, a restaurant in the emerging but still gritty Brooklyn neighborhood called Red Hook.

It’s a small, casual place with the locavore menu and short, eclectic wine list that are standard in this new wave of new American places in Brooklyn. Sohui Kim, the chef-owner, has cooked at Annisa and Blue Hill, and adds some piquant Asian touches to the food, like black bean sauce on roast chicken, and black rice that accompanies a duck breast grilled medium rare. Prices are reasonable (with main courses $18 to $23), service is friendly and the place draws a relaxed, diverse crowd clearly enjoying themselves.

As were we, not least because Jim had pulled a 1999 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet from his cellar. It showed classic California character: smooth and dense, with a deep core of ripe black cherry fruit. Yet it had matured beautifully, adding spice, tobacco and herbal notes over softening tannins. I’d say this red is on a happy plateau that could last another five to 10 years; I rated it 92 points, non-blind. Was it perhaps a bit more serious, more grown-up, than the restaurant itself? Perhaps, but then so were we; it just made the moment all the sweeter. members: Read the original blind-tasting review and see the current auction price for Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley The Montelena Estate 1999 (94 points, $140 on release).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Cabernets from Napa Valley, along with our quick list of Top Values among California Cabernets.

Member comments   5 comment(s)

David Blakeley — New Jersey —  August 19, 2010 10:14am ET

Thank you Thomas. I have one bottle left of the '99 Montelena Estate Cab and have been wondering how long to let it "hang on the vine". I loved it four years ago and was curious how it may have changed.

Thomas Matthews — New York City —  August 20, 2010 8:45am ET

David, How has it changed in four years?

Peter Hellman — New York —  August 20, 2010 7:00pm ET

The ember-hot, unanswered question, Tom, is: Did Jim arrange ahead of time to bring the Montelena? And: What was the corkage fee? These are not academic questions for those of us who'd love to do the same with a fine mature bottle from our home cellar.....

M Mccormick — Pasadena CA —  August 22, 2010 9:44pm ET

The 1999 Napa Cabs and Clarets have aged well in general, and are drinking great.

Thomas Matthews — New York City —  August 23, 2010 9:38am ET

Peter: Jim followed the procedure I recommend to anyone who wishes to bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant: He called ahead, to explain the situation and the wine, and ask what was possible.

Some restaurants have fixed policies; others will work with you. In this case, Jim was told the restaurant would charge $20 corkage, which he accepted. In the event, we ordered a bottle of rose from the list and offered a sip of the Montelena to our server, and in the end, no charge was made. Whether that would be the outcome for others, I can't say. (However, I was anonymous, so no favors were done for Wine Spectator.)

Would you like to comment?

Want to join or start a discussion? Become a member and you can!

To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. To learn more about member benefits, take our site tour.


= members only

Keep me logged in      Forgot Password?

Job Opportunities

Passionate about wine? Wine Spectator magazine is looking for an enthusiastic copy editor in the New York office.

Email Newsletters

Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions
New! Ratings Flash | New! Unfiltered

» View samples
» Or sign up now!
» Manage my newsletter preferences


The marketplace for all your wine needs, including:

Wine Storage | Wine Clubs
Dining & Travel | Wine Auctions
Wine Shops | Wine Accessories