If you haven’t had a chance to taste wines of Chateau Montelena of Napa, California, you might still have heard about it. Montelena was featured in the movie called “Bottle shock”, where it was THE new world producer to beat French wines in a blind tasting referred to as “The judgement of Paris” in 1976, held by the British wine expert Steven Spurrier. The movie is based on real events although there has been some criticism in regards to the accuracy of the script. This film is certainly not a masterpiece but still quite entertaining and a must-see for all wine lovers.
But back to the wine! I discovered the 2010 Montelena Cabernet on the wine list at the CUT – a fantastic steak restaurant on London’s Park Lane – and looked no longer, I knew I had to try it! I apologize for the very brief wine description as it was rather difficult to focus on producing a full tasting note being in a big group of friends in a very lively environment.
TASTING NOTE: smooth tannins, pronounced cassis notes; smoke/tar and floral aromas somewhat reminded me a bit of Barolo, although it was more violets rather that roses. Very good quality easy drinking wine that will develop further. Decanting recommended.
The wine is a blend is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc and retails for an average of £30 per bottle; considering its quality, fame and ageing potential I find this a good value. It matched perfectly with a medium cooked USDA beef fillet mignon and was an excellent and more elegant alternative to my usual choice of Malbec to go with steaks.
If you are interested in purchasing the wine drop me a line and I will be happy to help you source it.
I remember very well that day of my WSET Level 3 course at Berry Bros. & Rudd Pickering cellar, when our tutor Anne McHale MW has treated us with something very special at the end of the USA tasting session. We were tasting blind and loved the mysterious wine.. and were absolutely overwhelmed when she revealed it was OPUS ONE..! After all, a wine that normally retails for a few hundred pounds a bottle isn’t something you get (or can afford to get) your hands on every day.
Opus One winery in Napa Valley, California was founded as a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton-Rothschild in Bordeaux. The 2008 vintage is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (86%), Petit Verdot (8%), Merlot (4%), Cabernet Franc (1%) and Malbec (1%), aged in french oak barrels (barriques) for 17 months.
TASTING NOTE: deep ruby, full bodied wine with pronounced flavor intensity, high tannins and medium+ acidity levels, with a long lasting finish. Blackcurrant, cherry, oaky spice, hints of mint, leather, farmyard. Still developing, has ageing potential. Outstanding quality wine.
This year’s London Wine Fair – the capital’s biggest trade event of the year was a particularly important one for me personally. Wines from my place of birth – Azerbaijan – were represented for the first time.
ASPI winery was founded in 2007 and the vineyards were planted in the beautiful mountainous region of Gabala, in the Savalan Valley, producing their first vintage in 2010. Azerbaijan’s typically hot climate is moderated by the altitude of Gabala region which makes quality viticulture possible in the area. Soils are varied but predominately clay with vineyards planted with South-East facing aspect.
ASPI winery has brought talented Italian oenologists Daniele D’Andrea and his wife Elisa on board. They are focusing on producing high quality wines with potential to compete with the old school European classics and to win the hearts of the European wine lovers. (they won mine!) It was my absolute pleasure to meet with the team of ASPI winery & vineyards in London, to taste their wines and to have Daniele take me through the secrets of winemaking in Azerbaijan.
Follow the link to the photo gallery on Facebook where you will find my comments with brief tasting notes in the caption of each photo.
Follow the link for a little trip down the memory lane of the wines I tasted and enjoyed in the past year:
There were many highlights among them but the clear winner was the 2008 Pirinoa Road, a Pinot Noir from Martinborough, New Zealand. No surprise I had to buy a full case of it! It is unfortunately sold out but 2010 vintage (very good, but not as special as 2008) is available through Antipodean Sommelier (http://www.taswines.co.uk)