It was the ultimate blind wine tasting, and one with higher stakes than anyone likely realized. 11 renowned judges (9 French, 1 British, and 1 American) gathered at the InterContinental Hotel in Paris on May 24, 1976, to compare four white Burgundies and six California Chardonnays. The tasting was subjective, and each judge was left to determine his or her own preference among the ten wines and give a score out of a possible 20 points. The results were tallied and released…and the French were astonished to find that the California Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay had emerged as the winner. California’s Cabernet Sauvignon’s enjoyed similar success against a selection of Bordeaux, and California wines were thrust onto the world stage.
37 years later, Chateau Montelena is still producing some of the world’s finest Chardonnay. Its Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2010 exemplifies the quality and characteristics of the grapes grown in the Calistoga region of Napa Valley. 2010 was a long, cool, slow-growing season, punctuated by a blasting heat wave near the end of August. The harvest began in mid-September and stretched full four weeks, testing winemaker Cameron Parry’s patience.
In the end, the wait was worth it, as this is a gorgeous Chardonnay. Aged ten months in French oak, the wine is pale gold tinged with hints of green. The fruit is apparent from the outset: We detect lemon, tropical fruit, and white peaches, which help the wine express its acidity. The fruit is nicely balanced by touches of honey, a bit of spice, and a delicate creaminess which lengthens the wine nicely. On the finish, a pleasant nuttiness emerges, completing a real journey for the drinker. Despite its complexity, this remains a wine that pairs extremely well with a variety of foods, especially meaty fish like turbot.
As you know, high-quality Chardonnay can come at a cost, and Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2010 typically retails at Vine &Table for $51.99. Right now, though, we’re offering this 93-point wine for one of the lowest prices in the nation: just $39.99 a bottle, or $467 for a case (12 bottles). This is a wine that will continue to improve in the bottle, so pick up a few for this incredibly low price. Chateau Montelena rocked the wine world in 1976; let it impress you all over again this summer.