Wine Dine and Play: Chateau Montelena

Chateau Montelena

The logo to Château Montelena in Calistoga, Napa, California

The Judgment Of Paris Napa
Calistoga, Napa California, USA
Wine Style: New World / Chardonnay, Cabernet
Average Price: $$
Overall Rating: 85 points
Article Written: July 2013-2017
Article Updated: September 2019

By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:

Château or Vineyard Owner:
Michel Reybier
Formally Bo Barrett

Matthew Crafton

The original story of the Judgment of Paris goes back long before the 1976 wine competition where Chateau Montelena’s 1973 Chardonnay defeated nine other French and California wines in a blind taste test. The original Judgment of Paris has parallels to Greek Mythology where a contest between the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympos Aphrodite, Hera and Athena challenge each other for the prize of a golden apple addressed "To the Fairest.” This event later led the start of the Trojan War. For those like myself who are laymen's and just enjoy drinking wines, I hadn’t read any books or learned about the judgement until I saw the comedy-drama film based on the event called Bottle Shock starring the late Alan Rickman from Die Hard and Harry Potter, Chris Pine from Star Trek, and Bill Pullman from Independence Day. The film is loosely based on wine shop owner Steven Spurrier traveling to Napa and discovering how good the wines were and arranging a blind taste test to promote the wines so he could sell them to the European market. 

The original Judgment of Paris has parallels to Greek Mythology where a contest between the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympos Aphrodite, Hera and Athena challenge each other for the prize of a golden apple addressed "To the Fairest.
The Judgement of Paris

As I was new knew to this information, the judgment and it was my first visit to Napa this would also be a Judgment of Napa as well as the Judgement of Paris. I spent three days Napa hopping from one vineyard to another focusing on some favorites I had before, and since the Bottle shock movie was something I recently watched, then Château Montelena would also be on that this. It seems I was not the only one thinking this as the movie brought lots of popularity back to the this and other Napa vineyards. The tasting room had the most crowds from any I had experienced on the whole trip.

The Bottle Shock Movie about Château Montelena in Napa California winning the Judgement of Paris in 1976 starring Chris Pine and Alan Rickman
Bottle Shock Movie Poster IMBD

Going back to 1976, the red wine winner of the competition which is rarely mentioned and my friend and Sonoma wine grower + film producer Robert Kamen of Kamen Vineyards told me was from Stag’s Leap.  Bottles of the 1973 red and white winners are on display at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian, in Washington DC. 

A bottle of the 1973 Chardonnay from Château Montelena in the Smithsonian recognizing it wining first place in the 1976 Judgement of Paris wine tasting.
A 1976 Chateau Montelea in the Smithsonian 

Chateau Montelena began in 1882, with entrepreneur Alfred Loving Tubbs buying land just north of the city of Calistoga. The property changed hands several times until in 1968 when Lee Paschich bought the property, partnered with James L. Barrett who replanted the vineyard and installed winemaking equipment in the historic buildings then began producing wines from them in 1972. In 2008 Michel Reybier, owner of Bordeaux winery Cos d'Estournel purchased Chateau Montelena from Jim and Bo Barrett, a transaction which Robert Parker described as "One of the biggest stories in my 30 years in the wine field.”

The Judgement of Paris in 1976 tasting the wines of France and California where Château Montelena and Stag's Leap won first prizes.
1976 Judgement

I visited Chateau Montelena in 2013, stopping first to witness the “Old Faithful Geyser” eruption which is a tenth of the size of Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming, but still fun to see. When I arrived it was very crowded with more people then the tasting room could handle, obviously they had seen the Bottle Shock movie as well. I did a tasting of a few wines but honestly, I was not very impressed. It seemed that the winery was very commercialized, the pourers really weren’t excited about promoting the wines, instead of treating it as a mundane job. Of all the tastings I did in Napa and Sonoma, this was my least favorite because of the lack of customer service and the crowds. It was great to see such a legendary Napa vineyard, but in the end, the Stag’s Leap tasting experience was much better, and at the time I didn’t know they were the red wine winner, and the winery did not disclose that information either.

The Old Faithful Geyser in Napa California, not Yellowstone, Wyoming.
Old Faithful Geyser in Napa, not Yellowstone

Red Wines Of The 1976 Tasting:
Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars 1973, Napa Valley (127.5)
Château Mouton-Rothschild 1970 (126)
Château Haut-Brion 1970 (125.5)
Château Montrose 1970 (122)
Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon ’Mountain Range’ (Montebello) 1971, Santa Cruz Mts. (105.5)
Château Leoville-Las-Cases 1971 (97)
Mayacamas 1971, Napa Valley/Mayacamas Mts. (89.5)
Clos Du Val 1972, Napa Valley (87.5)
Heitz Cellars ’Martha’s Vineyard’ 1970, Napa Valley/St. Helena (84.5)
Freemark Abbey 1969, Napa Valley/Rutherford (78)

White Wines Of The 1976 Tasting:

Chateau Montelena 1973, Napa Valley/Calistoga (132)
Meursault-Charmes 1973, Roulot (126.5)
Chalone Vineyards 1974, Monterey County/Soledad (121)
Spring Mountain 1973, Napa Valley/Spring Mountain (104)
Beaune Clos des Mouches 1973, Joseph Drouhin (101)
Freemark Abbey 1972, Napa Valley/Rutherford (100)
Batard-Montrachet 1973, Ramonet-Prudhon (94)
Puligny-Montrachet 1972, Les Pucelles, Domaine Leflaive (89)
Veedercrest 1972, Napa Valley/Mt. Veeder (88)
David Bruce 1973, Santa Cruz Mts. (42)

Wine and Grape:
Nose (Bouquet):
Palate Experience:
2014 Napa Chardonnay 
Winemaker Notes:  
Ripe peach, pear, and cloves dominate the nose amidst a flurry of floral and honeysuckle notes
Winemaker Notes:
There is a wonderful fullness and weight on the palate punctuated by ripe melon, green apple, and fresh citrus. The oak contribution remains subtle with a hint of vanilla and baking spice.
FINISH: The density of the wine is readily apparent as grilled pineapple, lychee, and a rich creaminess linger.

Final notes, review basics, and observations:


Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about.
To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

I refer to myself as an oenophile though, oenophilia is defined as “a disciplined devotion to wine, accompanying strict traditions of consumption and appreciation.” In a general sense, oenophilia also refers to the enjoyment of wine, often by a layman — which I am, and not qualified as a professional. I just enjoy drinking it, so my rating is based on enjoyment and the overall experience, not the science of an expert, and thus subjective, not objective. See the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ on how I arrived at the rating percentage below:

Overall Star Rating For WINERY NAME:
Exceeded my Expectations in a Tasting Experience
Robert Parker The Wine Advocate
90 points on 2012 Chardonnay
89 points
91 points
Wines Produced by Château Montelena:
Red: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, Charbono

White: Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc

Barrel Types and Aging:
60% New French oak, for 24 months

Wine regulatory’s for the tastings in this article:

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is the strength, in the water there are bacteria.” - David Auerbach

United States: 

Sub-Napa AVA’s:

Other Napa wines, wineries (Château’s), or food articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Napa - A Sip and Taste in Wine County A 3-day tour of wineries and fine dining restaurants in Napa County, California

Blackbird Vineyards Wine Tasting An ultra-premium terroir in Napa, California
Bridesmaid Wine Tasting Impressive Bordeaux-style blends in Oakville, California
Castello di Amorosa Tuscan inspired castle with wine — friends of the Baron - Calistoga, Napa,  California
Crocker and Star Wine Tasting Capturing the essence of Cabernet in St Helena, California
Emmolo Wine Tasting A merlot comparable to no other in Rutherford, California
Flying Horse Wine Tasting A spirited winery with Arabian horses in Oakville, California 
Ghost Block Vineyard Cabernet and Sauvignon blanc organic wine producer in Oakville, California  
Gustavo Winery Artisan winemaker whose story is tied to “The Judgement of Paris” in Napa, California
Hoopes Winery Tasting Cult cabernet winemaker with Liparita and Hoopes labels in Oakville, California
Johndrow Vineyards Wine Tasting The JV - a true cult wine in St Helena, California 
Jonata Winery Tasting Screaming Eagles sister winery, El Desafio cab, in Santa Barbara, California
Kamen Estates Low yield, high quality + film writing in Sonoma, California
Ma(i)sonry Wine Tasting An aesthetic portfolio of wines in Yountville, California
Mirror Wine Tasting A beautiful Cabernet from a family of entrepreneurs in St Helena, California 
Napa Wine Company A wine tasting Bar representing cult Napa classics in Oakville, California
Oakville Winery Tasting A single-family vineyard since 1903 in Oakville, California
Ottimino Winery Exclusive red Zinfandel producer partnered with William Knuttel in Sonoma, California 
Pahlmeyer Jason Wine Tasting A proprietary Bordeaux-style red blend in St Helena, California
Red Mare Wine Tasting Handcrafted and micro sourced appellations  in Napa, California
Row 11 Santa Maria Pinot An Old World style Pinot from Santa Maria, California
Row 11 Tasting Pinot grapes using Dijon clones in Santa Maria, California
Silver Oak Cellars Near the Silverado Trail, known for high-end Cabernet in Oakville, California
Stag’s Leap Winery Cask 23, a Napa gem in Napa, California
Switzer Family Wines A Cult Cabernet producer and famed football coach in Oakville, California
Twomey Wine Tasting Napa and Sonoma wines owned by Silver Oak, Calistoga, Napa California
Volker Eisele Wine Tasting An elegant family estate in the Chiles Valley district of St Helena, California

California cuisine is a style of cuisine marked by an interest in fusion cuisine (integrating disparate cooking styles and ingredients) and in the use of freshly prepared local ingredients. The food is typically prepared with strong attention to presentation. Foods low in saturated fats and high in fresh vegetables and fruits with lean meats and seafood from the California coast often define the style. 

5A5 Steak Lounge Modern Japanese steakhouse with chic design in San Francisco, California
Alioto’s Restaurant Historic restaurant serving Sicilian-infused seafood in San Francisco, California 
Casita Taqueria a fast-casual taqueria serving homemade artisan Mexican food specializing especially in tacos and burritos in St. Petersburg, Florida
Ciccio Cali inspired cuisine from California using antibiotic-free meats, organic and Non-GMO vegetables in St. Petersburg, Florida
Cowgirl Creamery Artisan Cheese Shop “aka” Cowgirl Cantina in Point Reyes Station, California
FarmTable Cucina organic, sustainable, and local with a focus on Italian and New American themes in St. Petersburg, Florida
FarmTable Kitchen Casual Cal-Italian cuisine and chef tables in St. Petersburg, Florida 
Fleur de Lys Lavish French-Californian by Hubert Keller in San Francisco, California 
Gaia Restaurant Organic and sustainable concept in American Canyon, California (Renamed Table 29 Bistro and Bar)
Greystone CIA Restaurant CIA School restaurant formally called Wine Spectator now Gate House in Calistoga, California
The French Laundry French-American fine dining restaurant in Yountville, California
Wipeout Bar and Grill Surf shack theme with California and Mexican cuisine in San Francisco, California 
Wolfgang Puck Celebrity Chef’s California cuisine and fine dining chain; reviewed in Orlando, Florida

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

A Few New World Favorites:
New World wines are those wines produced outside the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe and the Middle East, in particular from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, United States (California, Florida, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State,Virginia),Thailand, and Uruguay.

Bespoke wines and panoramic views
Local and California grapes
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
world-class Biodynamic Oregon wines 
Newburg, Willamette, Oregon

Some Old World Favorites:
Old World wine refers primarily to wine made in Europe but can also include other regions of the Mediterranean basin with long histories of winemaking such as North Africa and the Near East. These countries include Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Cyprus, England, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Macedonia, Moldova, Morocco Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Sicily, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey.

A French Style Wine Bar at the Conrad Hotel
Dubai, UAE
A tasting of the Vougeot AOC, caves, and the Hospices de Beaune
Burgundy, France
Wine tours and restaurants 
Bordeaux, France

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country

Bottle Prices 
(excluding taxes)
$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricey)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)
**Currencies reflect the world’s major wine countries and connoisseur’s** 

Currency rates in the top wine-producing & wine purchasing countries:
Price Chart :
2014 (750 ml)

United States Dollar (USD)
Australian Dollar (AUS)
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
European Union (EUR)
New Zealand Dollar (NZD)
South African Rand (ZAR) 

Cost of Wine Tasting (p/p):

A Taste of Montelena $40.00

Château Montelena:

1429 Tubbs Lane
Calistoga, California 
94515 USA

Tasting Room Information:

Tasting room:
+1 707-942-5105
Tasting Room Hours:
Pacific Standard Time (GMT, Zulu, or UTC-8:00)
Monday - Sunday

9:30 am - 4:00 pm
Social Media 
Accolades for 
Chateau Montelena:

Chateau Montelena Facebook Link                

The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.

A few to tease you with…
Vibrant Downtown & relaxed coastal cuisine
St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
A Parisian style bistro rendez-vous
Monte-Carlo, Monaco
Modern Gastro Whole Animal Cookery
Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Other Chateau Montelena Pictures:

The tasting room at Château Montelena
Tasting Room

Original house of Château Montelena from 1890 in Napa California
Tasting Room and Old House

The article write-up for Château Montelena's 1976 Judgement of Paris winning in Time Magazine
Time Magazine Article 1976

A wine barrel from the 1976 chardonnay wine tasting a Judgement of Paris winner from Château Montela
Barrel Commemorating 1976

“In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is the strength, in the water there are bacteria.” 
- David Auerbach

Who is John Galt?


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