The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 59 of 108

{ }  59 "When you visit the winery, it's a totally different experience," says Barrett. "Everything else falls in place if you can provide remarkable wine experiences." But, he noted, it's essential to do it with integ - rity and honesty—from the way you treat your land and employees to the price you charge for what's in the bottle. Napa: The Next 40 Years Between high land prices and an influx of tourism (almost 4.5 million people visit Napa Valley each year), preserving Napa's rustic authenticity will be an issue in the future. Barrett said he thinks the challenge is complacency. "We schooled the French 40 years ago and I think Napa might set itself up to be schooled by somebody else by resting, so it's important to keep your head in the game and keep working forward," he said. "The bar for quality has never been higher." Today, even as it celebrates its win 40 years ago in Paris, family-owned and -oper - ated Chateau Montelena is more focused than ever on its renowned Napa Valley and Estate Cabernet Sauvignons, which account for almost two-thirds of the winery's current annual production, furthering founder Jim Barrett's original dream of producing a First Growth California Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateau Montelena's Estate Cabernet Sauvignon comes from 111 acres of Cabernet vineyards that surround the winery at the base of Mount Saint Helena in Calistoga. The vineyard site contains the three most desirable soil types used in mak - ing premium wines (volcanic, sedimentary and alluvial) and also faces east, giving it a 45–50 degree Fahrenheit diurnal tempera - ture variation during the growing season. Because of these unique growing conditions, the vineyard typically produces less than a ton of fruit per acre, which gives the wine an incredible concentration of flavors. Spurrier also agreed that Napa needs to continuously evolve. "Napa will always be the hub, but I think that Napa will really have to keep renewing itself to keep the public buying its wines, because the public is always after something new." Echoing his earlier thoughts, he concluded, "It's very good to know that the families are still there. That's what wine growing is all about: people remaining on the soil and making the best thing they can. It all comes down to quality and individuality. You can't have quality without individuality." See page 30 for Steven Spurrier's personal reminiscences about the original Judgment of Paris. 2012 Napa Valley Chardonnay Ripe peach, green apple and honeydew on the nose; the palate shows bright acidity and layers of kiwi, grapefruit and soft notes of sweet oak and lemon curd. Ten months in French oak. CABERNET SAUVIGNON 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Dark and powerful in the glass with notes of vio - lets, cassis and dark cherry; on the palate, red r aspberry with hints of cherry, dried fruits and clove. 18 months in 28% new French oak. 2011 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Aromas of strawberry, vanilla and lavender are followed by ripe raspberry, cranberry, mint and cocoa on the palate. A vein of bright acidity is present from start to finish. 22 months in 32% new French oak. A bottle of the famed Chateau Montelena 1973 Chardonnay. The original panel for the Judgment of Paris in 1976. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHATEAU MONTELENA

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