Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Chateau St. Jean Alexander Valley Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay, 2003
Can a wine lose its fruit and still drink beautifully? Logic says no, but this wine argues otherwise. Rich, buttery aromas are abundant, evidence of barrel fermentation. The luxurious, creamy feel on the palate demonstrates what nine months aging sur lie (on the spent yeast cells) can do for a Chardonnay. The beautiful limey flavors come from well selected French oak. All of those qualities create a wine that would produce ooohs and aaahs from most audiences. But where is that unique, spicey Alexander Valley fruit from Belle Terre Vineyard that justifies the $30 price tag? It's there but not as prominent as I would like and not as apparent as in the last bottle I had a month or two ago. With six years' aging and bottle variation (probably related to aging and storage), the winemaker qualities still overshadow those from the very fine Belle Terre Vineyard. It's possible that could change with more aging, but I doubt it. Fortunately, I didn't pay $30 but rather $13 on the closeout shelf at Harding's Market in Kalamazoo.