When you talk about American winemakers on the world stage, the very first winemaker to be mentioned would probably be Miljenko Grgich. Already thrust into the limelight when he crafted the sensational 1969 Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon, he was then tasked with making a Chardonnay to compete against the best of Burgundy for the 1976 Judgement of Paris.
Many believed that Chardonnay in particular would be a varietal where Americans would be laughed off the stage. But as you all know the story by now, Mike Grgich’s 1973 Chateau Montelena was chosen as the best white wine in the world, sending shockwaves throughout the wine community and cementing the U.S. winemaker’s legacy amongst the world’s best.
On the heels of his big victory, he left Chateau Montelena just a year later in 1977 to start his own winery with partner Austin Hills. Together, they settled on a magnificent plot of land in the Rutherford AVA in the heart of Napa Valley, and named it Grgich Hills Estate.
Since then, the Grgich Hills team has systematically ticked off every great accolade in the industry. But up at the plate in the 2016 vintage, Mike was pitched a soft ball. The vintage started early and held steady throughout the summer without the heat spikes. Finally – significant rainfall didn’t hit until the 16th of October – a full month after Mike had already brought in all the perfectly ripe Chardonnay.
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97 Points, Decanter Magazine
Stunningly complex with aromas of smoke, brioche, toast and a little flintiness. This is beautifully balanced with a blend of sweet apple, oyster shell and gentle sweet oak. A classy wine with such potential to develop further.