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  • Writer's pictureAllison Sheardy

Tasting Today: 2019 Chateau Montelena Sauvignon Blanc

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

Tasting Today is a series of WSET-style tasting notes, based on their Systematic Approach to Tasting (SAT). While the SAT can be used to deduce a variety or region during a blind tasting, it is especially useful for determining the style and quality of a wine. I wrote hundreds of SAT tasting notes and assessments while I worked my way through the WSET Level 3 Award in Wine and then the Diploma. It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust and their approach to wine education; click here for more information on their programs. I am always available to answer any questions about the different levels and my experiences as well!

On to the tasting...

Appearance: This wine is pale lemon.

Nose: Intensity on the nose is pronounced. Aromas include a myriad of citrus notes (lemon, lime, grapefruit, grapefruit pith), tropical (passionfruit, guava), honey blossom, grass, and wax. Fruit is ripe.

Palate: This wine is dry with high (tongue tingling!) acidity, medium alcohol (label abv is 13.8%), with a medium(-) body and medium finish. Flavor intensity is pronounced, and flavors include a myriad of citrus notes (lemon, lime, grapefruit, grapefruit pith), tropical (passionfruit, guava), honey blossom, grass, and wax. Fruit is ripe.

Quality: This wine is very good. The zippy high acidity is balanced by ripe fruit characteristics. While the wine could be described as 'simple,' it displays great varietal typicity. Both aromas and flavors have pronounced intensity, and the flavors are concentrated. The finish is only medium; a longer finish would push this wine into outstanding territory. As it is, the fine balance, typicity, and pronounced intensity prevent the wine from being anything less than very good.

Suitability for Bottle Aging: No, this wine is not suitable for bottle aging. While the high acidity will structurally hold the wine during aging, the style is meant to be refreshing and crisp. As the fruit develops, it will lose its freshness, rendering the wine flat and unenjoyable.

Region of Origin: United States, California, Napa Valley

Grape Variety/Varieties: Sauvignon Blanc

Additional notes: I could write pages about my love affair with Chateau Montelena. Cliché? Maybe, but c'est la vie. I credit Montelena for my early interest in wine -- the story of the Judgement of Paris intrigued me and proved to be a springboard for a lifetime of wine learning. The Chateau has featured heavily in many of my fondest memories of trips to Napa, and I continue to appreciate the brand for its historical significance. Check out more about them here.

Snippets of past Napa trips: A shot of the iconic Chateau; Danielle and I (just babies!) at a Montelena tasting.

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