2018 Ch. Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay

2018 Ch. Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay

¥10,450 (incl. tax)

In 1972, Chateau Montelena, still a relative newcomer, came out on top in the historic blind tasting known as “the judgement of Paris,” thereby precipitating an identity crisis in the French wine industry but also waking the world up to the rising excellence of California wine. This Chardonnay is sourced from a small vineyard in the Oak Knoll District, a cooler region known for elegant Chardonnay just to the north of the city of Napa. 2018 was a classic Napa Valley vintage of moderate temperatures that made for a slow harvest that extended through September. But as winemaker Matt Crafton notes, in great vintages, “the challenge becomes how to artfully craft the mosaic, that beautiful composition of the disparate parts of each vineyard block into something truly captivating and nuanced, amidst so much uniformity.” Unlike many California Chardonnay producers, Chateau Montelena prefers to limit new oak and avoid malolactic fermentation. Natural yeast fermentation and aging on the lees result in a wine that is fresh, vibrant, and mouthfilling but without buttery or sticky tropical notes. Like great burgundy, the wine needs time in the glass for the fruit to emerge and become truly opulent.


Winery Description

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.

About this Wine

Country USA
Region California
Appellation(s) Napa Valley
Winery Ch. Montelena
Vintage 2018
Color White
Varietal(s) Chardonnay
Closure Cork
Volume 750ml
Bottle Size 8.0 x 30.5
Case Size 34.0 x 25.5 x 31.5
Alcohol 13.9%
Product Code MT18NCH
UPC 733555351326
MLF 0%

Owning & Enjoying

Tasting notes

Aromas of melon, fig and pear open up to notes of cinnamon and ripe peach. A sip starts with lemon curd and ripe orange, moving toward apricot and citrus on the midpalate. Bright and fresh throughout, the wine finishes with a hint of fresh baked bread and notes of toasted almond and clove.



Fermentation in stainless steel tanks followed by 10-month’s aging in 100% French oak.

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