torsdag 4. februar 2016

US Cab smaking på Stock 2.2.16 del 2 Montelena Estate

Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1995; "floral, litt bretty, blåbær og en ikke helt optimal flaske, har mistet lillaskjæret ,svett , bordeaux-aktig, krydret og aromatisk. Overraskende sliten hvis man sammenligner med f.esk. en rød Bordeaux 1995. 85 poeng"

Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 1998; " mere trøkk i munnen enn 95, mørkere frukt, litt "off" duft, snev av svidd gummi & mørke aromaer, bløt i strukturen. Frisk og kan fremdeles lagres. 88 poeng"

 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2008, Montelena ; " varm stil, mye eik, endel støv i glasset, solbær, en rik og fullmoden årgang, litt vanskelige utenpåliggende grønne tanniner, dyp lilla. Snev av fløtekarameller. 87 poeng" 

Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley/Calistoga 2010, Montelena ; " et mere elegant uttrykk, snill med et noe grønt og undermodent preg. Enklere, men det kan være positivt mht. US Cab. 86 poeng"

Fra the wine cellar insider:

Chateau Montelena Napa Valley California Cabernet SauvignonChardonnay wine producer profile, wine tasting notes, with a history of the property, plus information on their wine making techniques and their soil, along with wine reviews and links.
If you like, you can immediately jump to the Tasting Notes for this Winery
Chateau Montelena has a long history dating back to 1882. That was the year when Alfred L. Tubbs purchased 254 acres of land in the Calistoga appellation of the Napa valley. Tubbs set to work planting the vines for the purpose of creating his American version of a French chateau that would be right at home in the Bordeaux. Alfred Tubbs was so enamored with French wine, he hired a French wine maker and brought him to America to help produce Chateau Montelena wines.
Montelena became tremendously popular. With its new found fame and wealth, the estate continued expanding until it became the 7th largest winery in Napa by the start of the 20th century. Things continued improving until Prohibition caused all wine making and consumption in America to grind to a halt. Once the Volstead act was repealed, it took decades for the California wine industry to get back on track.  In 1958, the heirs of the Tubbs family sold the winery to Yort and Jeanie Frank. Alfred Tubbs will always be remembered in Calistoga. The street where Chateau Montelena is located on is now called Tubbs street. After buying Montelena, the Frank family created the stunning picturesque grounds and gardens that occupy Montelena today.
Chateau Montelena was purchased by Jim Barret and Lee Paschich in 1969. The initial vintages were made from purchased fruit, bought from other growers in the area. 1978 was the debut vintage for Chateau Montelena using estate grown grapes to make the wine. The reason for the decade long delay before making wine from their own vineyards was due to that the vines needed to ripped out and the vineyards replanted. In 1969, much of the estate was planted to Carignane, Alicante and other varietals that the new owners were not interested in producing. Their goal was to produce great California Sauvignon and Chardonnay. The next move for Montelena was to hire Mike Grgich as their winemaker. Mike Grgich later went on to found his own, self named winery.

Montelena2 300x168 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley California Wine Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay
Chateau Montelena
Chateau Montelena had become immensely popular by the middle of the 1970’s. But what really made the wines and the reputation of Montelena famous all over the world was the results of a blind wine tasting held in Paris in June, 1976. The event was billed as The Judgment of Paris. At the tasting, Chateau Montelena and other wines, including some of the top Bordeaux wines of the day were pitted against each other in a blind tasting. The nine tasters picked to judge the tasting were well-known and established in the wine industry. During the competition, the judges were asked to blind taste 4 white Burgundies against various California Chardonnay’s, California Pinot Noir wines were paired against red Grand Cru Burgundy and Bordeaux wine was arranged to be tasted next to California Cabernet Sauvignon.
Prior to the tasting, which received an extraordinary amount of publicity in the pre-Internet days, many people were willing to bet money that the French wines would easily triumph. Comments heard around the table during the event quoted the judges as saying: “Ah, back to France!” exclaimed one judge sipping a 1972 Napa Chardonnay.  “That is definitely California. It has no nose,” said another judge after tasting a Batard Montrachet.  After the ballots were cast and later revealed, the red wines with the highest scores were Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars’ ’72 from the Napa Valley, followed by Mouton-Rothschild ’70, Haut-Brion ’70 and Montrose ’70. The four winning whites were, in order, 1973 Chateau Montelena, 1973 Meursault-Charmes and two other Californians, 1974 Chalone from Monterey County and Napa’s 1973 Spring Mountain.  At the time, Jim Barrett, the general manager of Montelena stated, “Not bad for kids from the sticks.” The success of Montelena is owed to Jim Barret. His efforts, along with Bo Barret, his sons work help keep Montelena on solid ground. By 1982, Bo Barret, the son of Jim Barret took over as wine maker for Montelena.
By the start of the new millennium, Montelena experienced problems with several vintages due to their cellars, which had become infested with TCA. This caused wide rifts between critics, Montelena and consumers as each voiced their opinion. By 2004, Montelena began to acknowledge the TCA problems, which were eventually solved.
In July, 2008, a deal was struck to sell Chateau Montelena to Chateau Cos d’Estournel from Bordeaux. At some point, the relationship between the Barret family, the owners of Montelena and Michel Reybier became contentious and the deal fell apart. A law suit was filed and Montelena eventually won a judgment. Jim Barrett passed away, March 15, 2013 at the age of 86. Aside from his work in creating the modern era for Chateau Montelena, Jim Barrett remains known for his term as President of the Napa Valley Vintners, his service on the board of governors of Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula and his efforts with Family Wine Makers. Jim Barrett remained dedicated to his Irish roots as a loyal member of the “Irish Order of the Wine Geese,” a wine group focused on the Irish connection to the wine industry at large.
Traditional in style, the wine of Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon is fermented in stainless steel at warm temperatures. Malolactic fermentation takes place in large 1,200 gallon casks. The wine is aged in 20% to 25% new oak for up to 22 months. The barrels are stored in a series of tunnels and caves beneath the chateau and winery. In August 2013, at the ripe old age of 130 years old, Chateau Montelena was officially recognized by the American National Register of Historic Places.
Montelena produces Montelena Estate Cabernet, Napa Valley Chardonnay,  Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel and Riesling. While Montelena produces wine from a myriad of varietals, the estate is primarily known for their Cabernet Sauvignon. With close to 121 acres under vine, the average annual production for Montelena is close to 50,000 cases of wine per vintage.

Fra Decanter:
In March 2013 James L Barrett, the founder of Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena, died at the age of 86. His son Bo, who has been the winemaker since 1982 and is now CEO, talked to Courtney Humiston for over the course of two lengthy interviews, once in December 2012 and one shortly after his father’s death, about founding the historic property, the evolving style of California Chardonnay – and the professional and family tensions that nearly led to Montelena being sold to Cos d’Estournel.
What were those first years like at Chateau Montelena?
We got here in 1972 and the vineyard had been reunited with the Chateau but the Chateau had been abandoned since 1939. We had to buy everything. There were no tanks, no barrels; it was a dirt floor. We had to build the first modern winery in 1972 and we had to replant everything.
The vines had been neglected and were rundown. In the 1930s they grew stuff they could ship to the East Coast and then they grew stuff the co-ops wanted to sell to Gallo. It was the age of industrial winemaking, and the estate was planted to heavy-bodied blending grapes like Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah, Grenache, Carignan. Here they were not really high-quality grapes, they were just for bulk wine. So we bought in Chardonnay and Riesling, and then we started planting Cabernet Sauvignon.
What do you think is your father’s most important legacy?
That he was best at was helping people grow. He was a tough guy but a nurturing boss. He was a fearless leader of the team of Chateau Montelena. He was a good organizer and a good leader—he taught me to do things bigger than myself.

For example writing the petition for Calistoga to be an official sub-AVA of Napa Valley? 

He let me run with that. We didn’t really need it but it was important for our neighbours—they needed a commune. It was an extension of what he was doing with the Napa Valley Vintners, the Family Winemakers [Jim Barrett was president of both], affordable housing, you name it. I’ve always been brainwashed by my dad into this leadership role. Because of the Paris Tasting, We’ve always had a little bit of a leadership role in our Calistoga AVA and by extension Napa.
And yet your family wasn’t really a farming or winemaking family?
Our exposure to wine is not multi-generational. My father learned about wine because his clients started taking him to dinner in LA once he became successful, and he learned about wine at an extension class at UCLA – and in 1970, of course, the only wines they taught at UCLA were European. So they looked at Riesling from the Rheingau , then they looked at White Burgundy and Red Burgundy then they looked at Cabernet, which was Bordeaux. When he came up with the idea of starting a wine company he wanted to make a white Burgundy because that was the best white wine out of Europe he had been exposed to and of course the best red wine was Cabernet. And because Calistoga was a warmer area [than Burgundy or Germany] he set out to make a Bordeaux first growth here in Calistoga.
My dad wasn’t really a farmer or an agronomist; he was a team builder. He hired the right people and let them do their job.
One of those people was Mike Grgich, the winemaker who made the 1973 Montelena Chardonnay. A lot is made of the Paris Tasting—is it really as important as we think?
That was played up louder than it ever was. We just wanted to get in the same league…to be allowed on the field. And now we are. And by extension, if the Californians can do it, then the Aussies can do it and the Kiwis or whoever.
Would the California wine industry be where it is if it weren’t for the Paris Tasting? 
Probably. It was how Napa Valley came to lead the fine wine revolution of the United States. Would it have happened by itself? Probably, because the weather is just too good here.
Would it have happened instantly like it did in 1976? No. It probably would have taken another 20 years.
In the history of the Chateau Montelena, it was a pivotal moment because it allowed us to get the Cabernet planted. My dad’s dream was to make a Bordeaux first growth and the success of the Chardonnay allowed us to do that.
In 2008, you very nearly sold Chateau Montelena to a French company. What was happening at that time? 
In 2008 I became the master winemaker and I had to do a lot more of my dad’s job. I was running the outfit, but my dad was still very much in charge.
I only owned a tiny fraction—I still do— and my siblings weren’t involved. What happened in 2008 was for safe planning purposes. They [the Reybier family of St Estephe 2nd Growth Cos d’Estournel] offered me a pile of money [reported on as in the region of US$110m].
We are happy the deal fell through. It allowed my father to let go and for me to build a new team. We needed a new cellar. We were asking him to plant a new vineyard. That’s a lot to ask of an 80-year-old man.

What has changed since that almost-sale? 
It was the best thing that could have happened. The last years have been so much fun. We’ve been replanting, and building [a major renovation of the cellar was finished in 2011]. My dad’s been looking forward, not back. We ran as a monarchy and since then we have been running as a solid republic.
The other thing that Chateau Montelena is closely associated with — and which happened in the same year — is the movie Bottle Shock. How influential has that movie been? 
We are at the [north] end of Napa Valley—we are the last winery you get to. Which means that through 2008 people who came here were already familiar with the wines. The only visitors we had were experienced and wine-sophisticated. Bottle Shock introduced us to people who had never visited a winery before. ‘Hey, I’m from Iowa and I want to check this out.’ We had to change our parking lot.
Being a celebrity, being recognised, takes some getting used to. I’m a pretty private guy. The cult of the winemaker was started by Robert Mondavi as early as the 1960s and 70s—being recognised as a star winemaker. I think what helps me is my wife Heidi [Barrett, the renowned California consultant] is even more recognisable for her own accomplishments. I think most of my recognition is still from my work.
How has the style of Chardonnay changed since 1973? 
This is a classic house. We haven’t gone from my father’s original vision which is traditional styling with California flavours. By ‘traditional’ I mean the European style – which has basically higher acid. All of our wines have a European model that they emulate. People are getting into this whole terroir business but we were doing that a long time ago: we just didn’t have a name for it.
Was it difficult not to be making the big, fruit-forward style of California Chardonnay that was so wildly popular for so long? 
For a long time we were paddling uphill. Our wine was hard to sell because everyone was drinking the soft style. But we knew it was the right thing to do in the long run because it was such a good wine. The reason it won the Paris Tasting is because it worked. It’s supposed to taste like a white Burgundy and it still does.
We are really pretty stubborn. When the soft Chardonnay style was invented around 1982, it really took off with the Kendall-Jackson style. They did the malolactic, got a lot of wood in there and a lot of sugar too. We stuck to our guns and made this style of Chardonnay, the tart, lean, crisp – and ageable – style.
Is the average American coming around to the Chateau Montelena style?
The tide has definitely turned. We did some of the more modern Burgundian stuff like whole cluster presses and so on. We thought, we’re going to stick to our guns philosophically, but improve our fruit handling to make our wine even better. And that worked spectacularly. By the time the Chardonnay drinkers matured enough to start looking for this kind of style we had the right wine. The wines we make now are actually superior to the wines we made in 1973.
So the stylistic pendulum is swinging back?
Yes. And the main reason is that Chardonnay is pretty tasty. Chardonnay for a long time had a dreary sameness. Everyone was using the same oak, the same malolactic culture, the same yeast. All you really have are the grapes to differentiate the great wines from the standard wines.


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