Chateau Montelena located in Calistoga, Napa Valley became a recognized name back in 1976 when their 1973 Chardonnay scored the highest in the white wines category at the now famous Judgment in Paris blind tasting, the event that put Napa Valley in the world map as hi-quality winemaking region. The history of Chateau Montelena go back to 1882 when Mr. Alfred Tubbs planted the first estate vineyards, in its first vintage in 1886 50,000 cases of wine were produced.
In 1920 Prohibition brought and end to Montelena's wine production, the Tubbs family continued harvesting the grapes and selling then to other wineries and home winemakers. In 1934 Chapin Tubbs, grandson of Alfred refurbished the cellar and winery in anticipation to the repeal of prohibition. In a newspaper interview the same year Mr. Chapin Tubbs said: "It is my hope that the winemakers of this district will be able to probe to the world the excellence of our wines, thereby bringing fame to this beautiful and fruitful county".
The Tubbs family sold the property in 1958 to Yort and Jeanie Frank who were looking for a peaceful property to retire. In 1968, Lee and Helen Paschich bought the property along with partners James L. Barrett and Earnest Hahn. With Jim Barrett under the helm, the vineyard was cleared and replanted, and the Chateau outfitted with modern winemaking equipment. He assembled an expert team to oversee the vineyard and winemaking, with Mike Grgich employed as winemaker. In 1972 wines were made for the first time. Four decades later, this celebrated family-owned winery continues to achieve great quality wines with Jim Barrett still at the helm.
- 2005 Chateau Montelena zinfandel: This wine was released on March, 2008. It tasted delicious back in October, 2008 with aromas and flavors of fresh raspberry, baked fruits, creamy cola and notes of dark chocolate along with nice acidity and not to aggressive tannins. Renowned wine writers and connoisseurs recommended this wine for early consumption back in 2008 but it was wonderful to experience this wine on April 2012 paired with smoked duck and sides of grill asparagus with aged balsamic and yams sauteed with garlic and olive oil. With 4 years of aging after release this elegant wine showed great complexity of aromas and flavors with raspberry compote, cinnamon, root-beer, sweet vanilla and a nice touch of spiciness and softer tannins.
This well crafted wine showed great flavor development over four years on the bottle, more mellow tannins and great fruit flavors with some savory and spicy notes made this wine a perfect pairing with slow smoked duck legs seasoned with salt and pepper and fresh rosemary along sides of smoked asparagus (kosher salt and pepper) over cedar plank, finished with aged balsamic and boiled yams slightly sauteed with olive oil and garlic, seasoned with sea salt. The mellow tannins on the wine complemented the smokiness, gaminess, spiciness and herbal notes of the food without losing its flavorful fruit flavors. If you can still find this vintage out in the market give it a try but open this bottle today.