“You know you’re doing something right when, after 45 years of Chardonnay winemaking, they name a California Chardonnay style after your winery, the “Montelena style.” In short, it means a non-malolactic, minimally oaked Chardonnay. This estate has long made one of the best examples of a quiet, restrained Chardonnay that ages for 20 or more years.”
Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate on Chateau Montelena Chardonnay, Oct 2014
For almost 20 years, the Chateau Montelena team has farmed most of their own Chardonnay vineyards, making every decision from pruning to harvest. It’s a real winemaking-in-the-vineyard approach. This is a vineyard-oriented winery that argues that a skilled team can maneuver the challenges that distinguish good years from bad by decoding the soil, vineyard, and region through the lens of the fruit. While it may be all about creativity and perspective, there are undeniably details and nuance that set each growing season apart and make certain vintages special.
The Napa Valley Chardonnay is an unfined, unfiltered Chardonnay, aged ten months in French oak. It remains true to the finely-balanced Montelena style: pure fruit flavours, no malolactic fermentation, little-if-any yeast stirring, and judicious use of new oak. The nose is dominated by ripe peach, pear, and cloves, with subtle floral honeysuckle notes. There’s a nice fullness and weight to the focused palate, punctuated by melon, green apple, fresh citrus, and a hint of vanilla. The wine’s density is readily apparent, and the creamy texture lingers on the finish.
“Montelena’s 2016 Chardonnay is terrific. Fresh, nuanced and light on its feet, the 2016 is striking for its freshness and understated intensity. Lemon peel, almond, chamomile and floral overtones add shades of nuance throughout, but above all else, the 2016 stands out for its bright, crystalline tension and overall energy. What a gorgeous wine this is.”
94 points, Antonio Galloni vinous.com, March 2018