“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 2017 Chardonnay is bright, focused and tightly wound, with tons of citrus peel, orchard fruit and floral character. Medium in body, with terrific energy underpinning the fruit, the 2017 is a winner. Picking early and blocking the malolactic fermentation yields a finely sculpted, nuanced Chardonnay long on class. I loved it. Readers who enjoy classically built wines will find much to admire in these new releases from Chateau Montelena. Proprietor Bo Barrett and winemaker Matt Crafton turned out a gorgeous Chardonnay in 2017, while the bottled 2016 Cabernets are terrific. In particular, the straight Napa Valley Cabernet is a superb wine for the money. I also tasted the 2017 Estate Cabernet from barrel. It is a minor miracle that Barrett and Crafton were able to make such a promising wine given the severity of the fires that fall.”
94 points, Antonio Galloni, vinous.com, Oct 2018