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. 14.3% ABV. Gorgeous nose of red fruits, cedar, leather and cigar box. Medium body with perfect acidity. Power and concentration in spades. Currants, cassis liqueur, licorice and minerals on the palate. Exceptional length on the finish. Old school Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at its finest. Best over the next 6-10 years.
My rating: 96 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.