Chateau Montelena Classic Napa Cabernet
Old World Approach + Napa Sun
My palate leans decidedly to the old world. I’m more impressed by elegance than overwhelming power and richness, so I’m pretty choosy about Napa Valley wines. Chateau Montelena fits the bill perfectly.
Chateau Montelena – A Bit of Napa History
Chateau Montelena traces their history back to at least 1888 when their Gothic style winery was built as part of the A.L.Tubbs winery. Three to twelve foot thick walls and built into a hillside, the winery needs no additional cooling. Even the Chateau Montelena (a contraction of Mt. St. Helena) precedes the modern era, being christened in 1940 by a descendent of the original owner.
Spring ahead to the early 1970’s, and Jim Barrett purchased the property, cleared and replanted the vineyards, and starting making wine again in 1972. In 1976, the famous Judgement of Paris blind tasting surprised the world with Napa Valley wines taking the top spots. Chateau Montelena won the top ranking in the tasting, not for a Cabernet, but for their Chardonnay. Today the winery is still owned and family run, now by Bo Barrett.
The vineyards are dry farmed and managed organically. Fermentation is performed in stainless steel tanks managed to allow a slow fermentation, nothing is rushed. The wines are aged in a combination of new and old oak with a goal of not overwhelming with oak flavors, but allowing the natural softening that oak can provide.
Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($58 suggested retail)
Eye: Clear, deep medium intensity, ruby center with a cool edge, not quite purple.
Nose: Clean, blackberry fruit with a bit of leather. Medium+ intensity. Fruit is ripe but not at all raisiny or stewed, nice freshness.
Mouth: Medium+ body, medium acidity, medium tannins, a bit soft but not jammy.
Wine is definitely drinking nicely right now, but not overdone. Oak is nice and restrained, smoothes the flavors and texture without being in your face.
A Classic Match: Napa Cab and Your Favorite Steak
Sometimes simple is best. A nice steak, simply prepared matched with a classic wine. Nothing better! (click on any photo to view in a full size slideshow, escape to return)
Disclosure: My thanks to Calhoun Communications and Chateau Montelena for providing this classic wine as a sample. All opinions expressed are mine.