The second stop to our Napa Valley wine tasting trip with our friends Bob and Bren was at Chateau Montelena. We came to Chateau Montelena because of the movie Bottle Shock which is based on a true story where a Chardonnay from this winery (and another California winery) won a Paris blind tasting in 1976.
Guess what? I've tasted here one of the best Cabernet Sauvignons.
From the parking lot, it is easy not to miss their Chinese (or Japanese) inspired garden, a small pond and a pagoda in the middle. A few steps away is the french chateau of Montelena which seems odd after seeing the pagoda by the parking lot. I wonder which one was built first?You go in through the side of the chateau to get to their tasting room which seems quite small and subdued considering their massive French chateau. The tasting fee is $20 each but it is waived with a wine purchase of $100.
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Bob, Mijo and I decided we will each get a tasting. Bren stayed outside to make some phone calls while we wine taste. The tasting menu consisted of the following:
Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2011, Chardonnay Napa Vallet 2009, Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2009, Petit Sirah Napa Valley 2007, Cabernet Sauvignon Montelena Estate 2005 and then they added an extra tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon, Montelena Estate 2004. We all agreed that we liked all their wines.
The winners are the Chardonnay, and the Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignons. We would have bought a bottle each of the 2004 and 2005 of the cabs if not for their prices - $145 a bottle which is way too much for our per bottle budget. Though I made a mental note that I'll buy one for my birthday next year because they are truly very good. Our server was very helpful and knowledgeable and even mentioned how the estate's soil types - sedimentary, volcanic and alluvial, loamy, rocky, cobbly, stony, gravelly, soil nutrient contents, water draining quality - affect the taste and quality of their grapes.
They also have tours of the vineyard but we decided to just stick to wine tasting. It would have been good to hear about the history of the winery and the story about the 'Paris Judgement' in 1976 where their chardonnay won the blind tasting which catapulted California in the world's wine map. I heard there is a small tasting room of their wines at the St. Francis hotel in the city. Anyway, Randall Miller's Bottle Shock stars Alan Rickman, Bill Pullman and Chris Pine.
The winery and tasting room are located on Tubbs Lane off Highway 29 in Calistoga, Ca.