15 July 2016 News

British wine writer Jancis Robinson recently posted a piece on Chateau Montelena, called “That Paris judgment, 40 years on.” Below is an excerpt.

“When his grandson asks him why he is famous, wine writer Steven Spurrier shows him George M Taber’s book Judgment of Paris, a tangible reminder of the fateful blind tasting of California and top French wines he organised on 24 May 1976.

In this 40th anniversary year, Spurrier has been travelling the globe – to Florida, California, Washington DC, Paris and at least five commemorative events in and around London (including this one at Sager & Wilde, reported on recently by Julia, and this one at Christie’s, reported on this week by me) – so long lasting, if slow burning, have been the effects of what he called at one celebration at Christie’s, London, last month ‘a template whereby unknown wines of quality could go against famous ones’. A bottle of each of the winning California wines are even part of the Smithsonian museums’ collection of ‘101 Objects that Made America’.”

Click here to read the full article

27 June 2016 News

Last week, Vinous Media published the results of a horizontal tasting of 1995 Napa Valley Cabernets. Chateau Montelena’s Estate Cabernet scored higher than many of the region’s most famous wines, including Shafer’s Hillside Select, Ridge’s Monte Bello and Phelp’s Insignia. The review for Chateau Montelena’s 1995 Estate Cabernet appears below. Click here to read the rest of the notes, written by Stephen Tanzer.

“Bright, full medium ruby. Cool, medicinal aromas of black cherry, menthol, graphite, licorice and cinders are quite fresh, even high-pitched. Suave and alive, conveying a slight medicinal coolness to the flavors of dark berries, bitter cherry, leather, minerals and spices. This fine-grained, rather stylish Cabernet is juicy and light on its feet, with enough mid-palate material to cushion its firm tannins. Lovely old-style Cabernet–and not a bruiser.”


29 April 2016 News


Bo Barrett lands on the cover of The Somm Journal in celebration of The Judgement of Paris. Inside are two stories, the first titled The Judgement of Paris Revisited, penned by Steven Spurrier, and full of fantastic anecdotes on the tasting. (if you didn’t know it, Montelena Chardonnay was the clear winner among the whites, with 6 of 9 first place votes). Click here to read the piece.


The second piece is titled The Judgement of Paris Forty Years Later, and looks at how the event “changed wine forever”.


30 March 2016 Feature, News

It’s the 40th Anniversary of Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay’s stunning victory in the Paris Tasting of 1976.  A whole new world of wine followed. See here for a recent article, “Sips that Shocked”, on the Paris Tasting with an awesome photo of the telegram Jim Barrett sent home to Napa letting everyone know about the win, and click here to see an article that discusses the tasting and a recent celebration at Meadowood in Napa, where the 2009 Chardonnay shined and highlighted the ageability of Montelena’s Chardonnays.


25 March 2016 News

A recent article in Wine Business, “The Judgment of Paris at 40: California wines evolution through the lenses of a key event,” recalls the historical 1976 Paris tasting that put California on the wine map. Below is an excerpt:

“There are few tastings that have been as constantly celebrated and memorialized as the one that took place 40 years ago in Paris. It was organized by former British wine merchant, and now wine writer, Steven Spurrier, and pitted some classic French wines against a handful of Napa Valley new comers such as Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap. Its moniker is a reference to ancient Greek mythology and a beauty competition between goddesses which supposedly caused the Trojan War.”

Please click here to read the full article.

14 March 2016 News

Every year Wine and Spirits Magazine polls the most popular restaurants in the United States to do an analysis of sales and trends.  Chateau Margaux, Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, Quinta do Noval and E. Guigal’s Crozes Hermitage and Chateauneuf-du-Pape have all been listed among the most popular wine brands in their categories across this group of leading restaurants.  This is an important poll to which the restaurant community and trade at large pay attention. Click here to see the rankings in their April issue!

8 February 2016 News

A special tasting was held last week at the Naples Winter Wine Festival – Stephen Spurrier, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap joined forces to toast the Judgement of Paris. The first line of the article says it all – “What if there had never been a ‘Judgement of Paris’?” Great anecdotes from Spurrier and Bo Barrett – he recalled he was one of 3 cellar hands, making $3.15 an hour at the time! – and Bo showcased Montelena Chardonnay 1992, 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008. Awesome.

In addition, Chateau Montelena and Stag’s Leap also joined together to create an auction lot, the details of which you can see here. Special bottles of Montelena Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Cabernet, visit to Napa, private tours, and more.

18 December 2015 News

Next year, Chateau Montelena will celebrate 40 years since the Judgment of Paris, also known as the Paris Tasting, when its 1973 Chardonnay beat French and American competitors in a blind tasting of wines in Paris. The tasting forever changed the way the world views American wine and helped put California at the forefront of the wine world.

The winery will be hosting an exciting series of events from January through June. Click here for the official press release and a list of all the planned events!


6 July 2015 News

The latest issue of the Wine Advocate includes a retrospective on the 2005 vintage in Napa. Robert Parker note that  Chateau Montelena’s 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is “certainly one of the great ones.” See below for the text of the review.

“The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon at age ten is still a young, vibrant, dense ruby/purple -colored wine with lots of classic cassis fruit and a touch of earth undertones. It offers relatively soft and silky tannins by the standards of Montelena, but they’re there. It is full-bodied, rich and impressive. Cabernet Sauvignon from the northern end of the Napa Valley in Calistoga tends to be the St.-Estèphe of Napa. This wine is certainly one of the great ones. Forget it for another 3-4 years and drink it over the following 20-25.

Beautiful Montelena Winery was established in 1882, which says a lot. It has been owned by the Barrett family for a long time, becoming one of the iconic wines of Napa Valley. (There’s probably as much Château Montelena in my California collection as any Napa Cab.) However, the aging curve of Montelena is irrefutable, with the estate Cabernet easily going the distance of 20-30 years, even in lighter vintages.”

1 May 2015 News

Bo Barrett, CEO of California’s Chateau Montelena, recently sat down for a Q&A with Idaho-based newspaper Boise Weekly.  Some of the excerpts are posted below.

  • On taking top prize at the Judgement of Paris:  “Basically what happened was the Australians said, “Well, if the Californians can do it, we can do it, too.” And the South Africans and the South Americans. So we think it was a big part of the democratization of wine.”
  • On changes in Napa since the 1970s:  “We have a much better grip on precision viticulture; I’d say the fundamental change has been how careful we farm now. … We have much more gentle equipment, planting has changed quite a bit, we have closer spacing. … On the winemaking side, we have such a better grip on the chemistry, on the microbiology, the tools that we have to make better wine.”
  • On what’s interesting in the wine world:  “The most exciting thing to me is that they’re making good wine in Texas now and they’re making good wine in Idaho. Good wine has spread over the country. … That’s pretty cool to see Americans starting to enjoy it as a beverage and with their food and dinner.”
The whole interview can be read here.