Thursday, September 23, 2010


Chateau Montelena Chardonnay

At the end of a tough week - and aren't they all? - Mr. and Mrs. Now And Zin planned to have an evening snack.  The plate of cheese, olives, strawberries, almonds and peanuts was prepared and placed in the fridge, and it would be ready when we returned home that evening.

We had been keeping a bottle of 
Chateau Montelena Chardonnay in reserve for a semi-special occasion, and this seemed like it. 

Purchased during last year's 
press trip to NoCal wine country, when we escaped the clutches of a public relations firm and struck out on our own, this memento of the storied winery in Calistoga is special, indeed.  It was the 1972 vintage that beat the French in the historic Judgement of Paris in 1976.  That high standard of quality has been maintained through the years by winemaker Bo Barrett.

The 2007 vintage for Chateau Montelena was almost perfect for the grapes from the John Muir Hanna vineyard. Great weather all through the growing season provided fruit that was at its peak.

The wine was produced with 64% whole cluster pressing, allowing some of the herbal notes to come through.  A portion is produced in stainless steel, while another part is given oak.  The wine is 13.7% abv, and cost $50 at the winery.
Just as I had found it in the Chateau Montelena tasting room, this Chardonnay is at once restrained and stunning.  The pale straw color is pretty in the glass and exotic tropical notes show on the nose.  I detect a green garden herbal aspect which Denise interprets as peas.  There's a faint smokiness present and an overlay of minerals gives the sense of wet rocks.  On the palate there are tropical flavors with some lemon zest and a nice acidity that coexists with a creamy mouthfeel.  The finish is long, and well after the drink is consumed, I'm left with the memory of lemons and a trace of banana.  The wine is a complete pleasure from beginning to end.

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