Chateau St. Jean’s Reserve wines are crafted by selecting the vineyard lots from throughout Sonoma County that offer the most generous fruit expression and the ability to age. We source vineyards spanning from the Sonoma Valley to Alexander Valley in order to craft a wine that expresses a full range of fruit flavors. For this vintage, the majority of the fruit came from Knights Valley, Dry Creek, Moon Mountain and Alexander Valley.
This Reserve wine consists of Cabernet Sauvignon (88%) blended with Merlot (6%) and Petit Verdot (6%). Individual lots of each variety were aged separately for two years in small, 100% French oak barrels from select coopers. The blend was then assembled by tasting and selecting the most outstanding lots, and aged for a third year in French barrels (100% new). The final wine spent an additional year in the bottle before release — a true Reserve.
The 2012 Chateau St. Jean Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon offers explosive aromas of dark berry fruit, blackberry pie and nuanced touches of spice and smoke. The complex, layered aromas continue to evolve with time in the glass. The aromas ring true on the palate with flavors of fresh berries, fine baking chocolate and subtle dusty mineral notes. The wine is well-structured with a tight core and chewy, fine-grained tannins leading to the hallmark Chateau St. Jean elegant finish. As with previous vintages, this wine is built to reward with several years of cellaring.
The Benoist Ranch is located in the coveted Sonoma Coast appellation where maritime influences from both the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay produce Pinot Noir with concentrated black cherry and plum flavors and rich, earthy aromas. This wine is a blend of the Martini clone and several Dijon clones.
After primary fermentation, the wine is drained from the skins and sent to barrel the next day. The malolactic fermentation occurs in the barrels and lasts for a month, enabling us to retain all of the fruit character from the vineyard and develop richness and integration with the oak components. The wine was aged 17 months in 100% French oak barrels with 35% of those barrels being new.
The inviting aromas of black raspberry, savory spice and sweet tobacco ring true on the lush palate. Flavors of raspberry, clove spice and smoked charcuterie stand alongside the firm backbone this wine offers from the cool-climate growing region of the Benoist Ranch. The French oak aging of this wine integrates and smooths the tannins, creating a creamier texture. The wine is well-balanced with bright acidity and offers crushed-rock minerality on the lingering finish.
This 2014 Reserve bottling is a blend of Pinot Noir from the Hallberg Vineyard in Russian River Valley, and the Benoist Ranch, Durell and Sun Chase vineyards from Sonoma Coast. The grapes from these vineyards provide structure and finegrained tannins, along with beautifully concentrated fruit flavors.
Gentle fruit handling is paramount to great Pinot Noir production. Cap management and cold soaking are also key parts of the equation. Cold soaking before fermentation allows for the extraction of more color and flavor from this relatively thin-skinned grape. We utilize both openand closed-top fermenters for our Pinot Noir, always focusing on careful movement of the cap. This regime results in the best extraction of color, flavor and tannins from the skin. Each lot is assessed and individual barrels are tasted, those barrels that show the greatest intensity are kept aside for the Reserve bottling. After 17 months of barrel aging in 100% French oak (39% new), the final selection is made and the blend is assembled. Bottled unfined, this wine receives an additional seven months of bottle age before its release.
The 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir offers beautiful aromas of black cherry, raspberry, tobacco box and baking spice. The vivid floral and black tea aromas offer complexity and lead to a dense yet elegant palate with layers of juicy fruit flavors as well as savory notes of smoked meats and cardamom spice. The wine is seamless and well-balanced with good structure, fine tannins and a long, expressive finish.