Wine-Searcher contributor W. Blake Gray reflected on a comprehensive ’72 tasting event of California greats, which prominently highlighted Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay. He starts by explaining how 1972 was huge for California wine, with several new winery openings. “It was an era for dreamers,” adding, “Not only had it proved that California wine could be great; it served as a talent incubator for winemakers, many of whom played important roles in the Class of ’72.”
While the wines featured were not all from the 1970s, it was a study on how older vintages are holding up today and discussing how they were made. It also sparked a conversation about the wines of today and whether they will hold up as well in 30 years. ” Climate change is impacting grapes, and winemaking is also different – Gray adds that “it’s more precise in almost every way. Wines are way more drinkable on release now than they were a generation ago.” Continuing, the Montelena wine is discussed to prove this conversation…
“We had two Chardonnays from Chateau Montelena: a 2019, and a 1990 from magnum. You might think the fresh young wine would be better, especially when you hear how they were made. But you’d be wrong.” Chateau Montelena Winemaker Matt Crafton explained the fundamental differences for how winemaking and their processes have changed, underscoring why the wine from the 1970s is still holding up and why the 2019 will continue to improve over time.
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Napa Valley, California
A true icon. The Napa Valley Chardonnay is the wine that put Chateau Montelena and Napa Valley at the forefront of the wine world in 1976, in what is now memorialized as “The Judgment of Paris.” To great disbelief, the Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay was the top-ranking wine against four white Burgundies and five other California Chardonnays. And as they say, the rest is history.
Calistoga, Napa Valley, California
In 1976 Chateau Montelena put California at the forefront of the wine world. That year a who's-who of the French wine establishment gathered in Paris for a blind tasting of French and American wines. When the scores were tallied, the top-ranking white wine was Chateau Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay. Montelena today continues to be a quality benchmark in Napa Valley, producing some of the finest Cabernet and Chardonnay in California.