This is an American classic Chardonnay. Imagine a big ole’ honey bear of a wine, dressed up in a tuxedo, but passed out on a feather bed.
Golden and glossy in the glass, it starts off with a perfumed aroma: ginger, fresh butter, and wild flowers. On the palate, it turns dense. Sweet vanilla and butterscotch hit the tongue, followed by a lifting minerality that saves the day. A buttery lemon note comes into play, with Japanese pear and jasmine coming forward in the finish. This wine is rich and full bodied, but it’s acidity really lifts it far and above most wines of this style.
Chateau Saint Jean has a long history in California. It was founded in 1973; it’s first winemaker was the legendary Dick Arrowood. The fourth and current winemaker is Margo Van Staaveren, who worked with Dick as one of his employees. Dick left in 1986 to start Arrowood Winery, but Margo stayed. She become an assistant winemaker a few years after he left, and finally head winemaker in 2003.
The winery is now owned by Treasury Wine Estates, a multinational corporation based in Australia. There business got some unwanted scrutiny in 2013, when it was reported that they would be destroying about $32 million dollars worth of wine, and discounting another $37 million in wine in the U.S. market.
The company is struggling right now, which is one of the reasons that the 201o vintage of Chateau Saint Jean has been discounted. Another wine to keep an eye out for is the Chateau St. Jean 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma. It’s pricing is currently $15.99 in PLCB shops and $22 elsewhere.