Chateau Montelena

Way up above Calistoga is a lovely winery made somewhat famous in the movie “Bottle Shock”.  I think that Napa thought that this would be their Sideways but that did not turn out to be the case.  The winemaker, Beau Barrett (husband of winemaker extraordinaire Heidi Barrett) makes a variety of wines including two cabs that seem to get the most attention.

Chateau Montelena Winery

The winery has a stone facade commemorated on the bottle, but interestingly when you visit, it is somewhat overshadowed by a much less appealing building that was attached much later.  And, we expected to enter through this famous entrance, however, the tasting room is off to the side of the building.

Tasting Room Entrance

Many of their wines are quite lovely.  When we visited in January of 2008, we tasted a wide variety including the 06 Potter Riesling (fruity nose but a dry wine), the 06 Chard (this wine put the winery on the map in 1973 – this is what Bottle Shock is all about), the 04 Zin and both of their cabs.  The 04 Napa Cab, which was smooth but on the lighter side, and the 03 Estate Cab, which you have to buy as futures two years out.

If you have time, they have a great Japanese garden which is the perfect place for a post tasting stroll.

Downsides?  Off the beaten path so it will take a bit of time to get up here.  You can’t buy the Estate Cab unless you want to wait two years.  The other wines are great, however, and can be taken home after your tasting.

Rating – 2/3 out of 4 stars – recommend with reservations


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