Today it’s a 2007 California chardonnay that will cost you $40 at Total Wine, up to $50 elsewhere.
This wine is famous. It comes from a Napa Valley winery that was founded in 1882. (That’s not a typo.) Chateau Montelena is also THE white wine that put California whites on the map – in 1976, the 1973 vintage of this wine stunned everybody by trampling a bunch of great French whites to win the Paris Tasting, a/k/a the Judgement of Paris.
So, this 2007 chardonnay has a lovely floral aroma. It tastes like an extremely elegant version of the familiar California chardonnay. The typical super-oak quality is replaced by subtle notes of oak. The typical buttery thing is replaced by smoothness, a really pleasant mouthfeel. Besides that unfortunate “California chard” taste, you get hints of mellow pineapple, vanilla, and a spicy, minerally finish. It has a LOT of character, so it should be paired with something spicy or bold. It is crying out, “spicy chicken dish” to me right now.
However, this wine is $40 at Total Wine, and costs more just about everywhere else. With its pedigree, it should be expensive, but I would not pay $40 again for it. Then again, most California chardonnays hit me with an unnatural, weird kind of non-wine flavor, so I admit that I am not a neutral judge of this animal. (No other wines do this, and I love chardonnays from other parts of the world.) I say, there are much more satisfying white wines you can buy for around $25. However, if you are living in a Groundhog Day-like cycle of California chardonnays and only California chardonnays, then you should definitely check out Chateau Montelena, because it’s one of the best.