Sunday, March 3, 2013

Grgich Birthday Cause to Open Some 1972 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay!

Napa's Mike Grgich, the legendary Croatian emigre winemaker who made one of the two American wines that won the famous Judgment of Paris in 1976, turns 90 April 1 and a whole series of events are planned at Grgich Hill winery in honor of the occasion.

There's a $295 a plate dinner, parties around the country, and best of all, as far as I'm concerned, a trade tasting and luncheon at the winery where a bottle of his pivotal Chardonnay will be tasted. I've got my invite!

In the meantime, Chateau Montelena made headlines last week by being named to the National Register of Historic Places. It's made history twice - once under the leadership of Alfred Tubbs (1888-1920) who brought high standards to the winemaking operations there, and again in the 1970s when Grgich was the winemaker there and Jim Barrett owned the winery.

Grgich later left to start his own winery.

Bo Barrett's father Jim Barrett bought the Montelena winery in 1972 and it has remained in the family, after a 2008 deal with potential French buyers soured. (At about the same time, the other Paris Tasting winery Stag's Leap Wine Cellars was sold to American-Italian winery partners in 2007 for $185 million when its owner Warren Winiarski retired).

Grgich was written out of the plot of the movie Bottleshock (very loosely based on the events of the famous 1976 tasting), but was included in a new Smithsonian exhibit on food. At right you can see the suitcase he brought with him when he arrived in Napa.

If you want to see some of the Tasting of Paris history first hand in Napa, I have launched a Organic Wine Adventures tour of Napa Valley that visits the wineries of the major players and vineyards where the grapes come from. You can find details here.

Both Grgich and Winiarski have been honored as members of the Vintners Hall of Fame.

No comments:

Post a Comment