Chateau Montelena is probably most noted for their Chardonnay, which won the Judgment of Paris in 1976. The winery itself has changed hands several times since then, but the great Chateau still stands (though it’s become a bit of a tourist trap) in the great grape-land that is Napa Valley. And they still, of course. produce exquisite Chardonnay.
About the Wine: The 2013 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from their Napa Valley estate vineyards. 2013 was, as many of you know, a dry California year, so the grapes were harvested a bit early — from late August through to the beginning of September. I mention this because it absolutely plays a part in the wine’s taste and texture.
The wine was aged for 10 months in 100% French oak (10% new).
Flavor Profile: The wine pours a flower-petal yellow in the glass with initial aromas of baked brioche and lemon curd. On the palate, the 2013 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay offers softer, somewhat linoleic textures along with that bit of buttery bread sensed on the nose. I can only assume that this kind of concentration of flavor is due to the heat and quick ripening of the buds during the warm harvest season. And, though I cannot confirm this, I believe it’s safe to assume the wine did go through primary malolactic fermentation.
But, despite this round, almost fluffy body, there’s a good line of acid that travels through the tasting from start to finish, providing an overall balance. There’s hint of lemon citrus that travels with that acid line and an over-arcing, background of white flowers on the breath. A clean and happy finish.
Would the 2013 Chateau Montelena win in another Judgement of Paris type situation? Probably not. But if it’s a wine to lift your mid-week spirit you’re looking for, then I’ll give them first prize in that category.
Food Pairing: I think this wine would work beautifully as an aperitif or with a light main fare. I enjoyed the 2013 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay with chicken fettuccine tossed in a homemade Alfredo sauce. Was it the perfect pairing? Yes, absolutely. But this wine is an easy drinker and could be paired with a number of dishes.
More Info: I received this wine as a Christmas gift, so I’m not sure how much it costs in stores. Unfortunately it looks like the 2013 is no longer available online, but for more information about Chateau Montelena, its place in Napa history, and for a list of available wines to try, please do visit the Chateau Montelena website.
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