Mike T. reported recently buying two closeout bottles of this wine that had turned to vinegar (see comments on January 26, 2009 posting "Chateau St. Jean Belle Terre Chardonnay"). This bottle, which I bought in early December at Harding's Crossroads for $3.39, is as fresh and lively as the bottle I reported on December 7. Later shipments arriving in January were apparently heat damaged since this 2004 is showing no signs whatsoever of advanced age.
The color is a brilliant yellow, very lively. Aromas are fresh and forward--green apples, flowers, hazelnuts. It's not a wine that fits neatly into categories (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris) that most Americans recognize, but I consider that a plus. There is crisp acidity framing the fruit flavors and a pleasant touch of bitterness on the long finish. It's an excellent choice for vegetable-oriented meals, particularly those including spinach.
I know that duds appear periodically on these closeout shelves; I took back two bottles of 2002 Firesteed Pinot Gris this week after opening the first and finding it was hopelessly oxidized. That increased risk explains why the wines are marked down so steeply. But there are occasional treasures to be found that make the risk worthwhile. The secret is to try the wine before you commit yourself to large quantities. And don't be embarrassed to take the wine back for a refund or exchange.