Bottle Notes, Zinfandel

Zinfandel of the Month – 2014 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel

Zinfandel of the Month is a regular feature on Zinfandel Chronicles. Keep in mind that although the Zinfandel of the Month might be an older bottle, the current vintage will be one you can find at retail or via the mailing list.

The October Zinfandel of the Month is the 2014 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel.

I chose this Zinfandel as my Zinfandel of the Month as I found this bottle on WineBid and realized I had never reviewed a Montelena Zinfandel since the inception of this blog.

Chateau Montelena dates back to 1882 when Albert Tubbs bought 254 acres of property just north of Calistoga. Tubbs planted vines and by 1896 Montelena was the 7th largest winery in California. Winemaking came to an end with the onset of Prohibition.

The current iteration of Montelena can be traced to 1968, when Jim Barrett was brought on as a partner in the winery. Wine production began again in 1972, with Mike Grgich employed as winemaker. Four years later, the Chateau Montelena 1973 Alexander Valley Chardonnay won first place among the Chardonnays and White Burgundies entered in the “Judgment of Paris” wine competition. This was later chronicled in the popular wine movie Bottle Shock.

Crimson in color. 14.5% ABV. Savory nose of black fruits, iron and pepper. Medium body with ample acidity. Dark, chewy Claret style Zinfandel. Black cherry, blackberry, plums and pepper on the palate. Nice length on the finish. The tastes exactly like the kind of Zinfandel you would expect from a winery known for their Cabernet Sauvignon. Lots to like here. Best over the next 2-3 years.

My rating: 92 points.

Chateau Montelena is truly a throwback to a bygone era. These are wines meant to be cellared (the Estate Cabernet in particular), providing less pleasure on release than they will after 10 or more years of aging.

Current vintages are readily available at retail and can also be purchased at the winery.

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