Balanced chardonnay makes perfect spring drink

Occasion: The last time I found a chardonnay worthy of a write-up here was nearly two years ago, so I guess we’re celebrating this rare occasion. Chateau St. Jean isn’t just any chardonnay, it is one of the really famous chardonnays from the rugged Sonoma Coast in California. It usually sells for about three times as much as I found it for here in the local market. Further, it is made by a great female winemaker: Margo van Staaveren, who gives this charming white wine a touch of femininity. With such a fortuitous circumstance, it is only fitting that it should be available on a deal right now, as the temperatures of spring are on the rise and we want to spend a good amount of time outdoors, drinking just such a delicious cool glass of lovely chardonnay.

Wine: Chateau St. Jean Chardonnay

Grape: Chardonnay

Region: Sonoma Coast, California

Vintage: 2011

In the glass: This well-made Chateau St. Jean Sonoma Chardonnay is a pale golden yellow with deep, crisp clarity going out into a glass-clear to pale-yellow rim with medium-high viscosity.

On the nose: It has immediate upfront crushed white fruits, like pear juice, Braeburn apples, but in a buttery cobbler style, soft peach-infused green tea, pineapple slices, vanilla custard, chalky minerals and underlying hint of lemon rind.

On the palate: It reveals a flavorful balance between pears, buttery apples and citrus on the fruit side and liquid minerals on the acidity side with a lovely smoothness and light- to medium-bodied structure that delivers an experience more commonly found in chardonnays that cost several times more. It follows through with a nice subtle finish and shows that overachieving winemaking is not dead.

Price: $7.99

Availability: Lee’s Discount Liquor

Gil Lempert-Schwarz’s wine column appears on Wednesdays. Write him at P.O. Box 50749, Henderson, NV 89106-0749, or email him at

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