2013 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay

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2013 Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay

Chateau Montelena shot to fame in 1976 at the iconic Judgement of Paris that shook the wine world to its core when their 1973 Napa Valley Chardonnay won first place against an enviable line-up of top French Burgundies. The result was a shock to the wine trade all over the world and changed the history of California wine - and Chateau Montelena - forever.

Tasting Notes

Winemaker Matt Crafton best describes this vintage:

"The secret to making great wine in 2013 was actually quite simple: focus on the fundamentals. That begins in the winter when our vineyard manager selects the cover crop blend specifically suited to each of our myriad soil types and continues through pruning, training, suckering, leafing, and thinning. And that’s just the farming side.

In February, a full six months before a berry crosses the crush pad, we’re reading the tea leaves—the weather patterns, the soil moisture, the life stages of the native flora in the vineyards—to get an idea of what we can expect in the weeks and months ahead. It takes time, experience, instinct, and a little bit of luck, but that’s how great wine is made and how we’ve always done it.

The stage was set early on in 2013, when normally reliable spring rains never materialized, and the likelihood of real drought appeared on the horizon. We’ve dealt with these types of vintages before, as far back as 1978, so we know the extraordinary potential of the wines as long as stress in the vineyard is managed and attention to detail is maintained in the cellar. A pleasant, albeit unexpected, splash of rain in June set up a picture-perfect summer and ideal ripening weather all the way into August and an early harvest. Boots on the ground, both in the vineyard and the winery, make all the difference during dry years as flavors, aromatics, and textures in fruit evolve and develop at astonishing rates."


The concentration in the 2013 Chardonnay is really what sets it apart. In the glass, the aromatics lean toward the floral and citrus families with rose petals, lemon blossom, and just a hint of ripe melon sneaking through.


While the palate is opulent, full of lemon meringue, peach pie, and ripe strawberry, the vibrancy of the acidity reliably lays the foundation for food pairing and aging for many years to come. In classic Montelena fashion, the minerality steps into the spotlight on the finish, coupled with just enough orange zest, and the lingering richness of crème brûlée.


Established in 1882 and located in Calistoga, California– the Montelena Estate is one of the oldest and most notable wine-producing properties in the Napa Valley.

Chateau Montelena Winery, originally called A.L. Tubbs winery after its founder Alfred Tubbs, was constructed in 1888 and intended as a barrel-aging facility. The Chateau was unique in materials, plan, size, and style for its era. In nineteenth-century Napa Valley, the majority of wineries were constructed of wood. Instead, the Chateau is made of stone with walls three to twelve feet thick, which provides natural insulation against outside heat or cold. Similarly, the structure built into a hillside, to further regulate temperature - something necessary for producing quality wines but uncommon at the time. Also rare among Napa Valley wineries, the Chateau resembles an English Gothic castle gatehouse complete with rusticated stone walls, battlement with crenels and merlons, narrow arched windows, large arched door in the place of a portcullis, and bartizans with faux arrow slits.

Accounts of the stone winery’s designer, masons and source of materials vary. The design has been attributed to Hamden McIntyre, the well-known local winery designer; however, McIntyre relocated to Vina in 1887 where he took charge of the vineyard and winery of Leland Stanford. The building is unlike McIntyre's other wineries, none of which were designed in a Gothic style. Some sources also suggest that while in Europe, Tubbs hired a French architect to draw plans for the building, brought back French masons to build it, and imported European stone for the walls. Other accounts suggest the design was inspired by the Cellar of Chateau Lafite in France.

Originally, the interior was one large space with a second-story crushing floor, but in 1960, a second-floor apartment was inserted so the Chateau could be used as a home. The space was then converted into our current tasting room though parts of the private residence remain and are used on occasion today for family guests and private events.


    Year 2013
    Bottle Size 750ml
    Cultivar 100% Chardonnay
    Country USA
    Alcohol content
    13.6% alc vol 
    Units of Alcohol per Bottle 10.2 units
    Type White Wine
    Barrel Aging
    10 months 100% French Oak 10% New
    Allergen Information Contains Sulphites
    Origin California
    Appellation Napa Valley