This is an American classic Chardonnay. Imagine a big ole’ honey bear of wine, dressed up in a tuxedo but passed out on a feather bed.
Golden and glossy in the glass, it starts with a perfumed aroma: ginger, fresh butter, and wildflowers. 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 its acidity really lifts it far above most wines of this style.
Chateau Saint-Jean has a long history in California. It was founded in 1973; its 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 becomes 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. Their 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.