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.
Crimson in color. 13.5% ABV. Spellbinding nose of red fruits, cedar, leather and graphite. Full bodied, powerful and concentrated. Rich, youthful fruit in spades. Black cherry, currants, creme de cassis and mint on the palate. The finish is exceptionally long with silky, fine grained tannins. What a spectacular showing for a 26 year old bottle of Montelena. For my money, one of the top 3-4 wines ever from this Estate. I have one bottle left that I will open in 2030. Best over the next 7-10 years.
My rating: 97 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.