In 1976, the Paris Tasting put California at the front of the wine world . . . and Chateau Montelena was there. Jim Barrett and his family had purchased the run-down estate in 1972 and completely refurbished it; they replanted most of the original vines to Cabernet but started to make Chardonnay while waiting for the new Cabernet vines to mature. And so it was that the winery skyrocketed to fame after the Paris tasting at which Montelena's 1973 Chardonnay was selected as the top-rated wine over all the other entries, including four white Burgundies and six other California Chardonnays. This is classic Montelena Cabernet, very much in the house style, in which vineyard flavors drive the wine. The wine offers complex aromatics of berry, cedar, licorice, and classic Cabernet which, combined with its rich, underlying fruit concentration, should please the most discriminating wine lover. In the mouth it is wonderfully smooth, full-bodied and balanced, with attractive berry and spice notes, along with rich, fine grained Cabernet tannins.
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