Monday, March 22, 2010

Chateau St. Jean Alexander Valley Belle Terre Vineyard Chardonnay, 2003

This is a California Chardonnay that has been given the works in oak treatment--barrel fermentation, extended time on the lees, French oak aging--and is none the worse for it. While it is not my style, there is no denying that it is an enjoyable wine with a distinctive Belle Terre personality. After seven years in the bottle, the color is a deep, mature gold, and the bouquet is lovely with no hint of oxidation or staleness. Citrus, peach, tropical fruits, spice. In the mouth, it's round and ripe with no hard edges. A nice bit of acid on the finish keeps it live. This is not the generic Saint Jean Chardonnay that is widely available for around $10 to $12 but one of two single vineyard offerings by Chateau Jean. Of the two, I usually prefer the Robert Young Vineyard, but this Belle Terre was offered at half price, presumably because of worries about advancing age. That was a couple of years ago, and the wine is still going strong.

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