Chateau Montelena Calistoga Zinfandel

If you are a serious wine enthusiast then you recognize the Chateau Montelena name. Chardonnay may be the variety you most closely associate with Chateau Montelena Winery, as the winner in the white wine category of the 1972 Judgement of Paris competition, but the Calistoga winery is up to more than Chardonnay. We recently received a tasting sample of Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel and prepared a delicious meal to accompany this delightful Zin.

The Judgement of Paris wine competition, the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 was the official title of the competition, was organized as a blind tasting of the best Napa Valley Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon versus the best Burgundy and Bordeaux wines from France.

The expected outcome was for the French wines to win, but that did not happen. The Chardonnay tasting was won by Chateau Montelena with their 1973 Chardonnay and the red wine competition was won by Stag’s Leap Wine Cellar with their 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon. Needless to say the wine world took note.

Chateau Montelena Calistoga Zinfandel
Chateau Montelena Calistoga Zinfandel
2015 Chateau Montelena Estate Zinfandel, Calistogamedium ruby in the glass with generous aromas of raspberries and ripe blackberries. Bright berry flavors follow with a delicious blend of raspberries and blackberries along with dusty earth and hints of cedar. The body is on the light side of medium with zippy acidity and drying tannins. The finish is medium in length, with a bit of heat, and lingering tannins. 14.5% abv. SRP $39

Montelena Estate Zinfandel, some of which was planted in 1972, is the source of this delicious, 100% Zinfandel. Chateau Montelena Winery is located within the Calistoga AVA in the northern point of the Napa Valley. Soils are uniformly well-drained and volcanic. This end of the valley is very warm by day, but cools dramatically at night.

Oak aging in a combination of French, Irish and American oak, with only 15% new, preceded bottling in April 2017 and release in March 2018. Nicely done and, importantly, not overdone.

The lifted, bright berry flavors of this Zinfandel are very appealing to me. The flavors are generous without being jammy or too ripe. This wine sips well on its own and the flavors really developed with our meal of Grilled Korean Style Short Ribs.

Coincidently the recipe comes from the September 2018 issue of Food & Wine, which celebrates the magazine’s 40th anniversary and ties into the 1970s era as does the modern history of Chateau Montelena.

Thanks to Calhoun & Company Communications for the introduction to this delicious Zinfandel.



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  2. Sounds like a delicious pairing. I’ve not tasted their Zin but it sounds like it went perfectly with the ribs!

  3. Long been one of my favorite zins.