One of my favorite stops in Sonoma and truly one of the state’s most beautiful wineries, I first visited Chateau St. Jean in 2003. I was immediately overcome with the natural beauty of the surrounding area — the serene gardens that line the winery and the gorgeous deck that looks out over the valley. If you have never visited the winery, I implore you to taste these amazing wines in the relaxing setting. Founded in 1973, Chateau St. Jean has been best known for producing top Chardonnay and Cabernet. Head winemaker, Margo Van Staaveren, uses more than 30 years of vineyard and winemaking expertise with Chateau St. Jean to highlight the best of each vineyard in the wines. She is one of the top Chardonnay winemakers in the state and I sampled her 2013 Chateau St. Jean ‘Reserve’ Chardonnay (WWB, 94) for Christmas this year as the wine was a decadent and dense treat, showing marvelous tertiary notes at this stage in evolution.
Margo has made a great new Pinot Noir, her 2016 Chateau St. Jean ‘Le Seul’ Pinot Noir (WWB, 91) which has wonderful richness and a great salinity. I absolutely loved their new 2015 Chateau St. Jean ‘Cinq Cepages’ Red Wine (WWB, 94) which is one of the best Cinq Cepages wines that I have sampled in the past fifteen years. Learn more about this great winery at chateaustjean.com Here are some of the great wines that I have recently sampled from Chateau St. Jean.
2016 Chateau St. Jean Sparkling Wine- Entirely made from Chardonnay grapes, this shows a bouquet of nutmeg and allspice with brilliant Pink Lady apple and kumquat on the nose. The palate shows sweetened apple and apricot flavors with a touch of toasted macadamia nut. Enjoy this in the short-term. Drink 2018-2022- 88
2016 Chateau St. Jean ‘Crisp’ Chardonnay- This opens with buttered brioche with hints of marzipan and lemon cream. Slightly sweet, this shows good poise with toasty oak, and lemon cream flavors. Enjoy this excellent value Chardonnay in the short-term. Drink 2019-2023- 89
2016 Chateau St. Jean ‘Creamy’ Chardonnay- The 2016 ‘Creamy’ Chardonnay opens with caramel, and Challah bread with lighter lemon zest aromas that fill the glass. A touch sweet, this shows pear and heavy whipping cream flavors. Drink 2019-2023- 87
2016 Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay- This wine opens with nutmeg, roasted hazelnut and heavy whipping cream on the nose. The palate has a good combination of weight and balance with lemon cream, macadamia nut and a long, buttery and mineral-laced finish. Drink 2019-2024- 89
2016 Chateau St. Jean ‘Gap’s Crown’ Chardonnay- Located only a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, the Gap’s Crown Vineyard is one of the great sites in the Sonoma Coast for Chardonnay. On the nose this shows some good range from biscuit to kumquat to bright Japanese pear aromas that impress. The palate has a good combination of weight and freshness with Meyer lemon cream, hazelnut, brioche and a long, cream and mineral-driven finish that lasts for nearly a minute. Seriously good, this will have a long life in the cellar. Drink 2019-2030- 92
2016 Chateau St. Jean ‘Le Seul’ Pinot Noir- This starts off with a whiff of sea salt with red fruits and citrus rind aromas that all combine marvelously. The palate is plush unveiling guava, red currant jelly, red cherry and blood orange accents that are wrapped around toasty oak. Delicious now, this will cellar well for a decade. Drink 2019-2029- 91
2015 Chateau St. Jean ‘Reserve Eighty-Five Fifty-Five’ Red Wine- Named after the winery’s address, this wine is always a proprietary blend of wine from the estate vineyard based on what head winemaker Margo Van Stravenen deems is showing best from the vintage. This inky colored wine shows toasty oak that wraps around a good combustion of dark and blue fruits on the nose. The palate is silky smooth, revealing milk chocolate, anise, creme de cassis and blueberry compote. Rich and seductive, this is a beautiful Bordeaux style wine that will cellar well for a decade or more. Drink 2019-2033- 92
2015 Chateau St. Jean ‘Cinq Cepages’ Red Wine- The 2015 ‘Cinq Cepages’ by superstar winemaker Margo Van Staaveren is another stunning release from this storied estate. The wine is a silky blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (81%), Merlot (9%), Cabernet Franc (4%), Malbec (4%), and Petit Verdot (2%) which were all aged in 63% new French oak for 20 months prior to bottling. The nose is simply gorgeous right now with mocha, creme de cassis, blueberry pie and hints of white pepper. The texture to this wine is absolutely outstanding as black currant jelly, milk chocolate, anise and creme de cassis flavors complete this beautiful wine. Seductive and downright delicious now, with some moderate tannins, this outstanding effort will continue to evolve well over the fifteen to twenty years. Drink 2019-2035- 94