Must-Try Wine of the Week: Chateau Montelena 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon


Chateau Montelena winery has a rich history. It was founded by Alfred L. Tubbs in 1882 (and is located on Tubbs Lane). By 1896, it was the seventh largest estate in the Napa Valley. In 1958, the Tubbs family sold the winery to Yort and Jeanie Frank, who created the estate’s beautiful grounds.

James Barrett bought the property in 1972, restoring the original vineyards and completely refurbishing the winery. The defining moment for Montelena came when a panel of French judges rated the 1974 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay highest in the white wine category at the Paris Tasting of 1976.

This cabernet has some of Montelena’s estate fruit, as well as fruit from other selected Napa vineyards. The 2010 is a blend of 91 percent cabernet sauvignon, 7 percent merlot, 2 percent cabernet franc. The wine is medium dark ruby in color, with a beautiful nose of cassis, black cherry, toasted herbs, and a hint of mocha. On the palate, there is a gorgeous core of dark cherry fruit, with touches of semi-sweet chocolate and toast. The wine has an elegant feel and texture in the mouth, and is smooth and seamless through the long elegant finish.

And, at 13.9 percent alcohol, it is a real pleasure to drink. You could easily pair it with any beef or lamb dish, or roasted chicken, or even hamburgers. This wine is quite capable of aging another 10 years or so, but is also drinking great right now. Available locally for about $43, at The Wine Club, Hi Time Cellars, Amazing Grapes, or Total Wine, Tustin.

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  • John Mason

    It was the 1973 Chardonnay. For more history, please read “Judgement of Paris” by George Taber.

    • Eric Anderson

      Thanks for the correction, John. I have the book and do know it was the ’73 – I think a gremlin must’ve slipped into my computer on that one.

  • Rusty Gaffney

    John: Thanks for correcting the date. Many people don’t know that most of the
    Chardonnay grapes for that winning wine came from Sonoma County -both Bacigalupi Vineyard in Russian River Valley and grapes from Alexander Valley. Grgich never made a Chardonnay again from Sonoma County grapes!

    • Eric Anderson

      Interestingly, Grgich’s first Cab under his own label (1980) was a blend of Napa 34%/Sonoma 66% fruit, which was stated right on the front label.