The American love of Chardonnay started in the 1960s with Chassagne-Montrachet: the elegant and beautiful white wines from that Chardonnay sweet spot in Burgundy, France. When winemakers in Napa and Sonoma were looking for inspiration for a white wine, they cast their collective eyes to the grape and style. Since then, the fortunes of the Chardonnay grape have risen and fallen with the American wine drinker. Styles, too, have changed to reflect changing demographics: buttery is out and naked is in, at least for now.
Not all chardonnays have to change, though. A few winemakers can still craft a beautiful bottle that will convert the most rabid ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) partisan. The school has a few anti-Chard folks in its ranks, and this is the Chateau St. Jean 2014 Reserve Chardonnay that turns their acidic rage into a mewing butterball.
Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren has crafted the finest bottling of Chardonnay Chateau St. Jean has ever released. It was sourced primarily from two vineyards: Robert Young Vineyard in the Alexander Valley and Cold Creek Ranch in the Sonoma Coast appellation.
The Wine Review
Aromas of cherry blossom, toasted nutmeg, and ripe pear rise out of the glass. Decadent textures of caramel and pear confiture are balanced with a mineral undercurrent. There is a joyful buoyancy to the underlying acidity, which starts as lemon curd and rises into the finish to brightly hued guava—a note of earthy praline significant amount of lees aging. The finish here is a delightful goodbye of jasmine, vanilla, and melon—a deeply layered and elegant wine with great finesse.