When I think back to the top California Cabernet Sauvignon wineries twenty-two years ago (1973), it is shocking to see how many of the finest wineries in 1973 have fallen behind today's leading Cabernet producers. For example, Beaulieu, Heitz, Inglenook, Mayacamas, and Freemark Abby were undisputed leaders in the early seventies, but in 1995, they have been surpassed by thirty or forty other producers. I can think of only three wineries that were making fabulous Cabernet Sauvignons in 1973 that have continued to produce great wines, with no qualitative slumps through 1995 - Caymus Vineyard, Ridge, and Chateau Montelena. Because Chateau Montelena is "old" by California standards, it is easy to overlook the extraordinary wines produced by Jim Barrett and his son, Bo. Remarkably, there is not a bad vintage of Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon to be found. While hitting the peaks in top years, this winery makes fine Cabernets in vintages where other producers flounder. A recent example of this is the 1989 Estate Cabernet, a superb wine that continues to languish on the shelves of retailers. For that reason, an invitation to a vertical tasting of Chateau Montelena's estate Cabernet is one of the most exciting tickets in town.