2011 Chateau Montelena Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay ($47.99) is as good a reason as any not to believe everything you read about vintages. Wine critics were underwhelmed by the 2011 Napa vintage. And yet, this 2011 Chardonnay, according to Montelena winemaker Cameron Parry, is "an excellent example of the stylistic target of this [Chardonnay] wine." I have to agree.
That is, it's of the style that resulted in Montelena's Chardonnay - made in Calistoga, California - winning the infamous Paris Tasting of 1976. Sadly for me, I didn't get to taste that vintage, but if it was half as delectable, elegant, and as well-structured as the 2011, I'm not surprised that it blew people's minds in Paris.
Unlike so many Napa Chardonnays, this one is oh-so-subtle with oak, not unlike a great French White Burgundy. There are lovely pear and white peach flavors dancing with lychee on the palate. The wine has a nutty undercurrent flowing through it along with judicious acidity, making this chart-topping Chard an excellent choice to uncork with lobster and other shellfish, especially those with buttery and/or creamy sauces.
And when you do uncork your 2011 Chateau Montelena Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay, please don't forget to invite the guy who recommended it...