We woke up to yet another gorgeous California day, this time at the Yountville Inn. The Yountville Inn provided a great, complimentary breakfast bar that we took full advantage of before leaving for some early in the day wine tasting. The title of the post might give you a hint as to where we tasted first
The inside lounge area was crowded, so we sat by the pool. It was warm enough. I love California. After breakfast we drove over to the Silverado Trail, passing by a gazillion wineries along the way, along with scenery that was complete paradise.
Our drive brought us up to Calistoga to Chateau Montelena. The property of Chateau Montelena is magical. It is worth reading about the history of the winery here: http://www.montelena.com/our_winery/history.html
Chateau Montelena was made famous by the 1976 Paris tasting where their 1973 chardonnay won the top prize, a feat in the days when American wine was not yet respected on the world wine scene. The event was made into the film, Bottle Shock. The film itself is quite cute and definitely worth watching. If you have Netflix, you can watch it online which is what we did a few weeks ago. It follows the trials and tribulations of winemaker Jim Barrett and his son as they make and bottle the wine that eventually puts the Napa Valley on the map.
We learned during our tasting that Mr. Barrett is very proud of his Irish heritage. Clearly, so is my hubs. Since it was 9:30 in the morning, we decided to share a tasting.
We started with what the tasting room staff called breakfast wine, the 2008 Potter Valley Riesling. Big, soft, and very full of ripe peaches and sticky apricots, this is a very drinkable white. Rieslings are definitely amongst my favorites when it comes to white wines. Chardonnays are usually not, but I could certainly not leave Chateau Montelena without drinking Chardonnay. The wine we were poured was a 2007 Napa Valley, and I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Even thinking of some Chardonnay’s makes me cringe, the buttery, oaky flavor too much for me. But this one offered more of an acidic, fruity front of the mouth flavor with a definite mineral finish, as the tasting notes indicate.
The winning vintage alongside the 2007 that we tried We also tried Montelena Estate Zinfandel and a 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The cab was ridiculously good, so dark it looked almost black in the light. I got a velvety chocolate cherry feel and taste off of this wine. It had a long, lingering finish, and it was $135 a bottle. I would have loved to have purchased some, but its a wee bit pricey. The tasting room staff at Chateau Montelena was warm and friendly which, considering the fame that the winery has, was pleasantly surprising and welcoming. It reminded me again how friendly and unpretentious people in wine country are. We chatted with them about wine and also about the film and learned what was fact and what was Hollywood fiction. Then we wandered more of the chateau.
There was something more than meets the eye about the halls of Chateau Montelena. Now, I am not saying that I believe in ghosts (though for the record, I 100% do.), but I had a constant strange feeling while we were here, a warm chill up the back of my neck if that makes any sense. You could feel history and pride, and you could absolutely taste it in the wines. The story of Chateau Montelena is a special one, and if you get a chance to visit, let me know what you think.