If you read this blog regularly, you know that I have a preference for white Burgundy, primarily because I find many New World Chardonnays over-oaked and over-manipulated. This Belle Terre Chardonnay from Chateau St. Jean was barrel fermented, aged on its lees for nine months in small French oak barriques and put through 100 percent malolactic fermentation. That's hardly my style, but so what? This is an absolutely incredible wine.
Even at five years of age, the color is still medium light--not too dcep but with good brilliance and clarity. From the first sniff, the aromas project a distinctive personality that just keeps coming at you--white peaches, nutmeg, hazelnuts and roasted almonds. It has a spiciness that may be framed by oak treatment but must come basically from the qualities of the Belle Terre Vineyard. In the mouth, the wine has a creamy texture but the fruit flavors are very concentrated and well defined--peaches, melon, pears and that persistent spiciness. It must be at or near its peak because it dances on your tongue as only a few wines are capable of doing. Wow!
I sometimes buy the regular Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay when it's available for about $10 a bottle, and it's a serviceable wine. And I had the more expensive Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay once or twice; it too was a spectacular wine, although with a decidedly different personality. Chateau St. Jean's Belle Terre Chardonnay regularly sells for $28 to $30 a bottle--well outside of my price range. I was shocked to find this 2003 on the close-out shelves at Harding's Market on Crosstown Parkway in Kalamazoo for $13.39! After trying a bottle, I went back to load up. Help yourself to what's left; you won't regret it.