Treat Yourself to This Napa Valley Red

Treat Yourself to This Napa Valley Red

Chateau Montelena makes elegant Zin!

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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.

91/100 points

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Arturo Ciompi
Trained as a classical clarinetist and conductor, Arturo plied his trade for many years in New York, performing with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, New York City Opera, the American Symphony and countless chamber music groups. While living in Durham, Arturo became the wine manager at two iconic gourmet stores: Fowler’s in Durham and Southern Season in Chapel Hill. He had a wine spot on NPR in the ’90s and has been a continuously published wine journalist since 1997. He has won national awards for his work and is currently writing for Durham Magazine and its weekly blog, “Wine Wednesdays”. In addition, he loves teaching the clarinet. Read more on his website.