Days of Wine and Roses
Recently I watched a movie called “Bottle Shock,” which tells the story of a small, family-owned, struggling vineyard called Chateau Montelena in the Napa Valley, California. It gives an accounting of how the world of wine was turned on its head in Paris during an international blind tasting in 1976.
The tasting competition was called “The Judgment of Paris,” a name that plays a story from ancient Greek mythology in which a mortal human named Paris had to decide on the beauty of the three most beautiful goddesses of Olympus: Aphrodite, Hera, or Athena. Chateau Montelena entered two of its wines in the competition. Shockingly, both wines won.
To understand the enormity of this event, you have to realize that American wines were considered inferior, barely worth drinking. The wine world was turned upside down when an American Chardonnay and Cabernet won first place in blind tastings by the world’s greatest experts in wine evaluation. A paradigm shift occurred as many people realized a stunning truth: American wines are worth trying.
Recently I tried Montelena’s Chardonnay and Cabernet wines. They were quite good. To use the, shall we say, unique language of wine tasting, the Montelena Chardonnay was “enchanting, like bright gold in a glass; it tickles the palate and, its young age notwithstanding, delivers an overall length that is impressive.” Doesn’t that sound funny? But that’s how those wine experts talk. And Montelena Cabernet provides “colorful layers of notes and taste that continued to reshape and charm after pouring.”
So in these days of occasional order and frequent chaos, pause some evening and conduct a tasting on your own or with a few friends. Chateau Montelena delivers by the case from the Napa Valley.
Patrick J. Wood
Author of “Dear Reader” and “Tapestry of Love and Loss”