2011 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2011 Chardonnay appears to have more richness and body than the 2010, which is counterintuitive considering the cool year, but in 2011 Bo Barrett and his team had to wait until the end of October for this fruit to fully ripen, which, needless to say, is highly unusual. The characteristic Montelena Chardonnay aromas and flavors come through, but in a slightly richer style than normal. Hints of lemon oil, crushed rocks and flowers meld together beautifully on the resonant finish. Barrett adds that the 2011 was the first wine made in the new cellar, which is set up to handle small-lot fermentations. Whatever the reasons, the 2011 is striking in every way. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025. Chateau Montelenaís 2010 Cabernets are among the highlights in this set of new releases, although the 2011 Chardonnay is pretty terrific as well. Bo Barrett credits his experiences in 1987 and 1988 as a big reason he was able to handle the stresses of the 2010 vintage, in particular the late season heat spikes that gave growers fits. Itís great to see this historic property making wines that live up to its reputation. A recent bottle of the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate was also superb.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(13.8% alcohol; the 40th chardonnay vintage at this historic Calistoga winery): Bright, pale lemon-yellow. Crisp aromas of apple, citrus peel and white peppery, along with a light metallic quality. The palate offers bracing lemon zest and grapefruit pith flavors and strong acidity yet comes across as silky and tactile at the same time. Cool and spicy, but with a surprisingly glyceral quality for the year. The youthfully edgy finish suggests that this wine will need serious patience.
This is the highest rated Chardonnay from Montelena Estates that has ever been released to date! A masterful piece from the so called "bad vintage" that would fool you for Premier or Grand Cru Burgundy. Exquisitely balanced with gorgeous minerality, bright acid, creamy lemon curd and subtle fruit from sitting on its lees but with no stirring and no malolactic fermentation. This hits it out of the ball park for sure and will be in my fridge as soon as it's released October 1st! (Christie Cartwright, Hollywood Buyer)