I am way too excited to write about this wine. Why? Because it’s one of those instances when I knew right away what I wanted when I saw it: Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Fume Blanc. The truth is, I knew what I would be eating for dinner that night, and nothing in my cellar was going to play the part of the perfect pairing. I was in a state of mind that I really needed my wine to enhance the dish: elevate certain flavors while calming down others. So I went out and, despite the store’s limited selection, I found this gem.
Two things perked this purchase: 1) My recent experience with Fume Blanc and 2) Chateau St. Jean’s inevitable reliability as a wine producer. These two things put together, and I just had this gut instinct that I’d have the perfect wine and food pairing that evening.
About the Wine: Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc is made from predominantly Sauvignon Blanc with a bit of Viognier and Semillon grapes (percentages unknown) harvested from various vineyards across Sonoma County. 70% is aged in stainless steel and 30% in older oak. 13.6% ABV
Flavor Profile: I love how near-clear and semi-sparkly this wine is in the glass — so luminescent. Initial aromas indicate soft, sweet fruits like figs and apricots (maybe even a hint of green apple) with a strong floral and herbal undertone. On the palate, this wine is somehow both soft and crisp. You’re first hit with a good dose of citrus and acidity with initial flavors of lime zest as well as a bit of granite-like minerality. Served extra chilled, you’ll also get a good tingle of effervescence that just delights the tastebuds to no end. Yet those softer fruits are there — those figs, that apricot — along with, perhaps, a drop of honey and/or vanilla, rounding out the taste as well as the texture. My favorite element is the undeniable hints of fresh grassy herbs and a bit of white flowers — this is the part that I was, fingers-crossed looking, forward to when I purchased the wine. This wine is by no means sweet — in fact quite the opposite, it’s a dry, medium-bodied white wine that provides definition of structure. You may think this wine is a party from the name, those smells, even the initial taste — but Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc is all big business, calming and caressing the palate into a smooth, clean finish.
Food Pairing: I paired this wine with curry-spiced chicken, saffron rice, and a salad of arugula, feta, cranberries, and pistachio. The brightness of the foretaste worked to break through those spices of the curry and the meatiness of the chicken. Those soft fruits, and roundness from the Semilon and Viognier elevated the oils in the saffron rice. And with such bold flavors in a main dish, that grassy-green herbaceousness and that soft song of the white floral notes, rounded out the taste and texture, providing a calming, cool finish that cleanses the palate and readies you for yet another bite.
More Info: If you haven’t yet read my review of Chateau St. Jean North Coast Chardonnay, please do. It’s the wine that made me fall in love with this winemaker. For more information about Chateau St. Jean, their available wines, and to order directly, please do visit the Chateau St. Jean website. I was able to find this wine at CVS (That’s right, CVS. Sale Price: $10). Cheers to a wine you can find at the corner store that tastes like it’s straight from the Chateau!
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