2016 Ch. Montelena Potter Valley Riesling


Founded in the 1880s, Chateau Montelena was named for Mt. Saint Helena, the imposing peak that looks over the upper Napa Valley where the winery is located. For decades one of the valley’s top quality wine producers, the estate struggled in the years after prohibition and even ceased making wine from its grapes. That all changed in the late 1960s, when a group of partners led by Jim Barret revived the estate, restoring the iconic chateau-like winery building, the Chinese-themed gardens, and, most of all, the vineyards. In no time, Chateau Montelena was making wine that, along with other pioneers of that era, vaulted the Napa Valley into the major leagues of premium wine production. Indeed, by 1976 Chateau Montelena not only emerged as one of Napa Valley’s premier wineries, but awakened the entire world to the quality of California wine, when its 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won first place in the infamous Paris Tasting, in which some of France’s greatest wine critics rated the Chateau Montelena above some of the most illustrious of white burgundies. Since 1981, Bo Barret, son of the founder, has overseen the winemaking at Chateau Montelena, pursuing the goal of making flavorful but elegant, complex and age-worthy wines in the French style. Unlike many of its peers, Chateau Montelena’s wines do not undergo barrel fermentation, malolactic fermentation or even aging in exclusively new oak barrels in order to emphasize the nuances of the terroir and the natural flavors of the grapes. The 98-acre Montelena Estate vineyards, spanning flatlands and hillsides north of the winery alongside the Napa River, features a rich mix of alluvial, sedimentary and volcanic soils as well as an intriguing variety of microclimates. Primarily planted to Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, the estate also includes several blocs of Zinfandel. Vines planted in these rocky soils are naturally low-yielding, and such techniques as organic pest control, dry farming, and crop thinning bring yields down even further. The results of such low yields are evidenced in the consistent quality of the “Estate” wines: full-bodied, intense and flavorful - though somewhat tannic in their youth - elegant, complex and age-worthy. In addition to the “Estate” wines, Chateau Montelena also produces Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards elsewhere in the Napa Valley, Chardonnay from both the Napa and Alexander valleys and a small amount of Riesling from the Potter Valley in Mendicino County.


This Riesling is a versatile wine you can pour with lunch, dinner or a friendly afternoon with family and friends. Alluring aromatics and rich flavors offer pure pleasure while the subtle balance of sweetness and acidity will pair well with not only hot Asian dishes but salads, blue or goat cheeses, sausages or pork. The winery has long produced delicious Riesling from the McFadden Farm, an organic grower in Mendocino’s Potter Valley. The valley’s high elevation and signature cool summer nights allow Riesling grapes to ripen ever so slowly and develop vibrant aromatics and excellent acidity. The McFadden’s approach to canopy management also manages to encourage a small amount of botrytis every year, which gives the wine a richer, honeyed character. In 2016, a mild summer slowed the maturation of the fruit so that it was harvested in late September at perfect ripeness - and just before the rains started.


Fermented in stainless steel and aged six months in both stainless steel and neutral oak barrels.

Tasting notes

Aromas of green apple, tropical fruit and notes of lime leaf and spring flowers open the way to zesty fresh apricot, peach with plenty of underlying spice and slaty minerality. The wine finishes so crisp and fresh, another sip is inevitable.


Potter Valley (Mendocino)