Chateau Montelena dates back to 1882 when Albert Tubbs bought 254 acres of property just north of Calistoga. Tubbs planted vines and by 1896 Montelena was the 7th largest winery in California. Winemaking came to an end with the onset of Prohibition.
The current iteration of Montelena can be traced to 1968, when Jim Barrett was brought on as a partner in the winery. Wine production began again in 1972, with Mike Grgich employed as winemaker. Four years later, the Chateau Montelena 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won first place among the Chardonnays and White Burgundies entered in the “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. This was later chronicled in the popular wine movie Bottle Shock.
Decanted for 30 minutes. Dark rust in color with some fading at the edge of the glass. 13.5% ABV. Strong nose of cedar, eucalyptus, graphite and dried red fruits. Elegant on the palate with just the right balance of acid, tannin and fruit. Flavors of cherries, currants and tobacco. The finish is endless with drying tannins. Assuming good storage this wine will show well for at least five more years.
My rating: 94 points.
Chateau Montelena is truly a throwback to a bygone era. These are wines meant to be cellared, providing less pleasure on release than they will after 10 or more years of aging.
Current vintages are readily available at retail and can also be purchased at the winery. Expect to pay $100-$125 per bottle.
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