Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren has championed Malbec and believes the variety flourishes in Sonoma at selected sites. It has become one of her favorite wines to bottle as a varietal. The Malbec for this wine comes from the Asti Vineyard in Alexander Valley at the northern end of Sonoma County, as well as the St. Jean Estate Vineyard in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Sonoma County experienced a near ideal growing season in 2013 – a season which was long and provided moderate temperatures for grapes to ripen at an optimal pace. The result is another high quality vintage offering outstanding fruit characteristics with balanced acidity, tannins and sugar levels. The Malbec is consistently ripened with a concentrated core of fruit balanced by bright acidity.
The Reserve Malbec was blended with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) to round out the final blend. Individual lots of each variety were aged separately for 28 months exclusively in small French oak barrels with only 5% being new barrels. Barrel by barrel, each lot was tasted and the most outstanding Malbec barrels were selected and then blended with specific lots of Cabernet Sauvignon to complete the final wine.
This 2013 Reserve Malbec offers bright aromas of boysenberry and blackberry fruit, subtle clove spice and a high-tone violet floral note. The inviting nose leads to a full, plush palate with powerful yet well-integrated and smooth tannins. Flavors of boysenberry jam, black cherry and spice are distinct on the palate. The wine is round with balanced acidity leading to a lengthy and flavorful finish.
Chateau St. Jean’s second vintage of Le Seul Pinot Noir hails from the incredible Gap’s Crown and Sun Chase vineyards, both located in the Petaluma Gap area of Sonoma County. The stunningly beautiful Gap’s Crown vineyard is located on the western edge of Sonoma Mountain and ranges in elevation from 300 feet to 840 feet. The vineyard is heavily influenced by cool ocean breezes and a natural fog pocket that stalls over the area allowing the fruit to ripen slowly over the course of the growing season. This results in perfect balance between sugar development and phenolic ripeness.
The Pinot Noir grapes were handled very gently from vineyard to winery. To start, the grapes underwent a threeday cold soak prior to fermentation. Following fermentation, the free-run juice was drained and the new wine sent directly to barrel to complete malolactic fermentation. The wine was aged for 18 months in 100% French oak (62% new) before being assembled and bottled.
The Le Seul Pinot Noir offers inviting aromas of raspberry compote, strawberry, rosewater and sweet spice notes. The nose leads to a plush mouthfeel with flavors of Santa Rosa plum, cherry cola, anise and a slight smoky note. The wine has a cool-climate structure with seamless tannins and bright acidity that leads to an elegant finish.
Eighty-Five Fifty-Five is our winery address here in the Sonoma Valley – it represents our home. Our flagship wine – Cinq Cépages – creates the opportunity to make this cuvée as we often have exceptional lots of the five Bordeaux varieties that aren’t included in Cinq Cépages in a given year. These extra lots are gems in our cellar and we created this house blend to give them a place to shine. By design, the varieties and blend vary with each vintage. We have been producing this house-cuvée since 1999.
This 2013 Eighty-Five Fifty-Five wine consists of Cabernet Franc (26%), Malbec (25%), Merlot (16%), Petit Verdot (15%), Cabernet Sauvignon (13%) and Syrah (5%). Each component was aged separately for 27 months in a combination of French (88%) and American (12%) oak barrels. Once the barrel selection was made, the wine was assembled and bottled.
The final blend for this wine changes with each vintage, creating an intriguing wine that is popular and beckons to be tried each year. The 2013 vintage offers expressive aromas of fresh, ripe red berry fruit, currants and notes of black pepper and clove spice. This rich and full-bodied wine has a dense fruit core with deep concentration adding to the overall complexity. Flavors of dark chocolate, espresso and blueberry fruit are complemented by the smooth tannins on the finish.
Hailing from the same vineyard as the Le Seul Pinot Noir, the 2014 vintage of Le Seul Chardonnay was harvested exclusively from Gap’s Crown vineyard within the Petaluma Gap area of Sonoma County. The grapes are influenced by the cool ocean breeze which allow the Chardonnay clusters to ripen slowly over the growing season. This slow maturation helps to create a perfect balance between the sugar and phenolic ripeness within the grapes. Much like the the Le Seul Pinot Noir, this Chardonnay is an exceptional expression of the Gap’s Crown vineyard.
Highly regarded Dijon clones like Chardonnay ENTAV clone 548 (55%) – a low-yielding Chardonnay clone with small clusters – brings concentrated aromatics of tropical fruits and great depth to the wine. Dijon clone 124 (45%) ripens later, lingering on the vine to bring mineral notes and a tight structure.
The clone 124 grapes were wholecluster pressed upon arrival at the winery, while the clone 548 grapes were destemmed and held on the skins for 12 hours to impart richness and structure to the final wine. This wine was barrel fermented and aged sur lie exclusively in small French oak barrels for 16 months; 64% of the barrels were first-fill.
This second vintage of Le Seul Chardonnay is concentrated and offers great depth with lifted aromas of quince, lemon cream and notes of sweet spice. The fullbodied wine is rich yet has a cool-climate expression showing elegance, flavors of white peach, apricot, Asian pear and a pleasing line of minerality. The wine is tightly structured with well-integrated oak and balanced with bright acidity leaving a long, flavorful finish.