This past weekend I was able to sneak away from the city and enjoy a warm and beautiful day in Napa. There is something so relaxing about seeing rolling hills covered in vines. Built into the side of one of these hills is Chateau Montelena. If you've seen the movie Bottle Shock, you may know a thing or two about this winery and their famous Chardonnay which beat the French wines in a blind tasting in 1976.
Flash back to this past weekend, I found myself in the Montelena cellar with a very large bottle of, get this.... a 1978 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon! Swoon! This wine is 35 years old, not to give my age away, but this wine is older than me and by a few years! The wine was exceptional. The balance and structure was still there, the deep red/orange brick color was the only evidence of its age, (kinda like wrinkles.) The deep of flavor and vibrancy of this wine wowed me. The tannins had soften, the fruit had mellowed out but there was still rich blackcurrant and black fruit qualities you often find in Cabernet. There was also an earthy almost musty flavor, much like you find in an older Bordeaux wine. I have to say, I hope I hold up this well by the time I am 35!
One of the great things about large format bottles is that the aging process takes a little longer due to the increased volume of wine vs. air exposure through the cork. The more common, 750 ml bottles, will age faster than a large format bottle. That's not to say a 750 ml bottle of this '78 Cabernet might not have been good, but it would have been more oxidized and further along in its process to becoming vinegar. If you are interested in cellaring wine, I recommend buying large formats. Although, I will admit, I don't think I could hang on to a bottle for 35 years without drinking it before hand! This was a beautiful wine that had much of an "old world" taste. Perfect for this old soul!