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Wine Country: A Visit To Chateau Montelena, Star of “Bottle Shock”


If you are a wine lover and you haven’t seen the movie Bottle Shock, I suggest firing up your Netflix account and adding it to your Watch Instantly queue.

The movie (somewhat loosely) tells the story behind owner Jim Barrett and Chateau Montelena’s shocking victory in the historic “Judgement of Paris” wine tasting competition in 1976. In a blind taste test, judges awarded Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay vintage first prize over the French field in whites (California also took first in the reds category with the 1973 Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon vintage), and helped catapult Napa into the forefront of the winemaking world in the process.

With this in mind, we made a pilgrimage out to the Chateau, and found that the winery itself is beautiful—and they still make a damn fine chardonnay.

Of course, I can’t tell you how the 2008 version compares with the legendary 1973 version—but it’s an excellent wine nonetheless. Not the best chardonnay I’ve tasted, but definitely in the upper crust.

During the tasting we also had the pleasure of sampling the 2009 Potter Riesling, 2007 Montelena Estate Zinfandel, 2007 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2006 Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.

For my money, the Estate Cabernet was the best of the bunch—something you could cellar and enjoy even more years down the road.

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