Sure, you’re only tippling with a small group right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go big—in fact, it’s even more reason to uncork some special bottles and savor them with folks who appreciate a truly unique pour. Enter the luxury hospitality sector, which is adapting by making things even more exclusive. This new set of offerings from Napa Valley’s Chateau Montelena and Calistoga Ranch, in the Auberge Resorts Collection, leads the way.
The two esteemed properties have teamed up on a trio of private wine tasting experiences that incorporate bottles dating back about 50 years, all enjoyed within the ranch’s indoor/outdoor private dining room at The Lakehouse.
“There’s enough here to appeal to both lifelong Montelena fans and those who are unfamiliar with the brand,” says winemaker Matt Crafton. “In one afternoon, guests get an insightful and unique experience, as well as the opportunity to build their cellar with historical vintages straight from the chateau. It checks off the boxes for collectors and novices alike.”
It also means that resort guests don’t necessarily have to leave to get a full Napa experience. Let’s start with the Taste of History ($250 per person for groups of two to six), during which you’ll savor one 2008 chardonnay and a vertical of six cabs from 2003 to 2008.
The Vintner’s Dinner ($2,500 per couple) adds another layer. A chateau expert will guide you through a vertical of three chardonnays (2008 to 2010) and the same number of cabs—2002, 2005 and 2007. (While vintages here are generally labeled hot or cool, the 2007 estate bottling was dubbed Goldilocks, because it was practically perfect. Warm spring climes led to an early bud break, and a mild summer and early fall extended the growing season for a leisurely ripening.) At the restaurant, which overlooks Lake Lommel and dishes out fare like housemade saffron linguine, you’ll pair your meal with one chardonnay and one cab from the tasting; you’ll also take home a signed magnum of Crafton’s 2016 estate cab.
The pièce de résistance? The Ultimate Wine Country Dinner ($5,000 per person, for two to six attendees). The grand tasting takes place separately; you’ll savor a chardonnay (starting in the ’80s) and a cab (beginning in the ’70s) from each decade. Depending on scheduling, Crafton or CEO Bo Barrett will host the night. And while you won’t try the ’73 chardonnay that won Montelena the Judgment of Paris (in ’76, while under Bo’s father’s ownership), you might try one of Crafton’s current favorites—the ’94 estate cab or ’95 chardonnay. Your dinner to follow will be paired with wine from the tasting.
“I think this is one of the best parts of the package because it allows guests to choose the [wines] they enjoyed most… and bring them to dinner,” notes Crafton. “I would anticipate the specific vintages to vary over time as the bottles mature. That’s the beauty of Montelena. The cool vintages are special in their own right, as are the warm ones and everywhere in between.”
Finally, the packages include a one-year Montelena Estate Cabernet Futures Membership, the only way to obtain the flagship Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, and a personalized, signed 3 liter cab from the 1970s or 1980s.
“Getting access to wines of this pedigree, going back five decades, is rare enough,” notes Crafton. “But bringing this intimate tasting to you, as part of a journey through the life of each bottle, along with a membership, puts the icing on the cake.”
Saw that Montelena isn’t putting out a Cab or Zin vintage this year due to smoke taint. Very sad for them.