One of my favorite Sonoma wineries is Chateau St. Jean. The great thing about their wines is they’re usually easy to find and offer a good quality to price ratio. Many of their wines can be found at area grocery stores such as Safeway, QFC and Fred Meyer.
The winery is located in the Sonoma Valley near Kenwood, California. Founded in 1973, Chateau St. Jean has been best known for producing top Chardonnay and Cabernet. Head winemaker, Margo Van Staaveren, uses her 30 years of vineyard and winemaking expertise with Chateau St. Jean to highlight the best of each vineyard in the wines.
Chateau St. Jean offers vineyard-designated Chardonnays from the acclaimed Robert Young, Belle Terre and Durell Vineyards as well as a Pinot Noir from Durell Vineyard and Fumé Blanc from the La Petite étoile ("The Little Star") Vineyard and Lyon Vineyard.
In 1999, Chateau St. Jean was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious "Wine of the Year" award from the Wine Spectator Magazine for its 1996 Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon, a Bordeaux-style blend of "five varieties." The winery received high acclaim again when it received the "#2 Wine of the Year" from Wine Spectator for its 1999 Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon.
I first visited the winery in 2004 and loved it so much that I’ve been back more than 10 times. As you enter the winery you immediately notice the lush gardens, mature citrus trees and large palm trees. You feel like you are in Provence or Italy, as the grounds have a unique ‘old world’ feel. A visit to this historic and beautiful winery is a must for those visiting Sonoma County. Here are some of the great wines that I have recently sampled from Chateau St. Jean. #chateaustjean
2012 Robert Young Vineyard Pinot Blanc- Honeysuckle and pear with light oak on the nose. Palate has minerals with pear, green apple and lemon rind. Delicious juice, drink now. -91
2011 Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay- Nose has golden delicious and ripe pear with oak and cream. Palate has pear, golden delicious and heavy whipping cream. Drink now. -90
2010 Chateau St. Jean Durrell Vineyard Chardonnay- Rich golden color with mushroom and pineapple on the nose. Palate has minerals, pear, mushroom, golden delicious and cream. Delicious, drink now. -93
2009 Chateau St. Jean Reserve Chardonay- Rich color with banana and crème brulee on the nose. Palate has brioche, crème brulee, pear and golden delicious flavors. Seamless and smooth. Drink now. -95
2008 Chateau St. Jean Reserve Chardonnay- Rich gold color with heavy oak on the nose. This is made from the best lots of Chardonnay that Chateau St. Jean has. The fruit on the palate suggests this, with heavy cream, pineapple and crème brulee on the palate. Thick and viscous wine, with major oak. Drink now. – 93
2007 Chateau St. Jean ‘Robert Young Vineyard’ Chardonnay- This wine has a great nose with banana and oak with vanilla. Palate has ripe banana, oak, cinnamon and crème brulee. Smoke with heavy whipping cream on the finish. Delicious and ready to drink. -92
2011 Chateau St. Jean Pinot Noir 'Russian River'- This is a small production wine with dried herbs and plum with red cherry on the nose. Palate has raspberry, red cherry and plum. Delicious and ripe. Drink now. -91
2010 Chateau St. Jean ‘Benoist Ranch Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- Raspberry and red cherry on the nose. Palate has nice balance. Red cherry, raspberry and cola flavors. Straightforward but tasty. -90
2009 Chateau St. Jean ‘Durrell Vineyard’ Pinot Noir- This wine has a rich nose with red cherry, raspberry and an herbaceous side. Palate has great fruit and acid structure. Cherry pie, cola and raspberry. This is a quintessential expression of Sonoma Pinot. Drink now. -94
2007 Chateau St. Jean ‘Cinq Cepages’- Dark color with mint, dried herbs, blackberry and anise on the powerful nose. Palate is still youthful. Anise, blackberry, raspberry with black tea and light tannins. Very good drinking now. -92
2000 Chateau St. Jean ‘Cinq Cepages’- Herbaceous nose with red bell pepper, dill, and red cherry. Palate has plum, red cherry and light spice. Balanced and ready to drink. -92
2007 Chateau St. Jean ‘St. Jean Estate’ Merlot- Black cherry, cedar and anise on the nose. Needs more than an hour to open up. Palate has plum, sweetened black tea and cherry pie flavors. Well-balanced and ready to drink. -92
2011 Cinq Cepages- Herbaceous nose with dried herbs and dill with creme de cassis. Palate has cassis, anise and blackberry. Delicious. Needs two plus years of cellaring. -92