Chateau Montelena is the winery heralded at the “Judgement of Paris,” (1976) where their Chardonnay won unexpected top honors. The subsequent years have also featured exceptional red wines, a movie (“Bottle Shock”) and dramatic family squabbles. Through it all, Montelena continues to excel with balanced wines, never shy on flavor and texture, but never over the top. Balance and “elegance” (not a word I usually associate with Zinfandel) are wonderfully apparent in this ripe new release. They’ve changed the label, too; now a bolder, more extroverted statement. The wine inside remains its perennial, beautiful self.
2015 Chateau Montelena Zinfandel, Calistoga $36 retail price
A dark garnet color. Freshness and lilt emerge on the bouquet with raspberry, blackberry and briary spices. With aeration, elements of leather, licorice, pepper and chocolate ensue. Flavors are medium-bodied with dried cherry, blackberry, zesty black olive and plum – but not a bit pruny. This is chewy and mouth-filling, but the overall texture feels “suede-like.” Charred oak and tender tannins finish out this very elegant red. Produced in the same caring manner as their Cabernet Sauvignons, it is a treat. If drinking tonight, decant or open a couple of hours ahead. (Aged 16 months in French, American and Irish oak!) Drink now-2022.