Chateau Montelena 2020 Chardonnay, Napa Valley
Golden straw-colored in the glass, the wine opens with cinnamon and ripe peach, bolstered by aromas of melon, fig, and pear. More fruity than floral upon release, there’s nonetheless plenty of honeysuckle and spice, softening to green apple and vanilla. Initially fused with lemon curd and ripe orange, there’s dynamic tension transitioning to the midpalate between the suppleness of summer stonefruit and the austere acid beneath. The citrus lingers as well, amidst a billowy texture that bolsters the bare minerality, contrasted only by the whisper-soft hint of fresh baked bread.Bright and fresh, ripe apricot along with orange marmalade lend a slight sweetness peppered by toasted almond and clove.- Winemaker Matt Crofton
Paradoxically, the “easy” or “straightforward” vintages can be the most difficult for me as a winemaker. The media, critics, and industry representatives tend to praise classic California vintages as a tide that lifts all ships, providing a simple, neat narrative that makes for clean headlines and a universal endorsement of the resulting wines. And they’re correct. For those wineries making high-volume, formulaic products, these vintages can be a godsend. But for us at Montelena, the challenge becomes how to artfully craft the mosaic, that beautiful composition of the disparate parts of each vineyard block into something truly captivating and nuanced, amidst so much uniformity. 2018 certainly qualifies in that it would have been tantalizingly easy to fall into the rut of recipe-driven, prescribed process. Thus our objective became how to highlight subtlety; how to tactfully magnify the shades of flavor that are so easily obscured by the abundant sunshine. It’s a unique mindset in that we actively search for and embrace the challenge. It’s the Montelena way.