Chateau St. Jean makes its home in the heart of Sonoma, a region of dramatic diversity perfect for growing a wide variety of exceptional grapes. The Dry Creek Valley is one of Sonoma's smallest applications and offered an ideal climate with long warm days and cool nights. The coastal and inland influences give this Merlot a rich and complex mouthfeel - a true example of the unique climate in Dry Creek Valley.
This Dry Creek Valley Merlot opens with vivid aromas of macerated fresh mixed berries, lavender perfume and brown spice notes. The nose of the wine rings true on the palate with pure fruit flavors of raspberry, boysenberry, spice and subtle black licorice. The wine is plush and well-balanced with tightly knit tannins and a lengthy finish.
Despite drought conditions, the 2014 vintage proved to be ideal, with excellent quality reminiscent of 2012. The winter was one of the driest on record in California, but substantial rains in early spring were timely and set up the vines for a strong start. Summer temperatures were milder than expected with no extremes, and after early bud break and veraison, harvest was unusually early in 2014.
Dry Creek Valley, one of the smallest AVAs in size (16 miles long by 2 miles wide) is home to over 9,000 acres of vineyards that cover the valley floor, benchland and hillsides. With a grape growing history going back 140 years, Dry Creek Valley is ideally situated for wine grapes. Bordered by Lake Sonoma in the north and the confluence of Dry Creek and the Russian River to the south, the valley is classified as a Region II climate for grape growing (similar to Bordeaux region in France).
This Merlot is blended with 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, also from the Louvau Vineyard, by selecting barrels with the greatest varietal focus and expression. The wine was fermented in small lots and aged for 15 months in roughly half American and half French oak barrels before being blended and bottled.
Margo Van Staaveren’s has been Winemaker for Chateau St. Jean since 2003 and has worked at the winery for over 40 harvests. She was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2008. During her long tenure with the winery, Margo has played a pivotal role in every facet of the winemaking process. As winemaker, she makes the final decisions involving blend and style to produce consistently high quality wines in the super premium and luxury category.