In the mood for a Cab, but not necessarily one inundated with chewy tannins or one that makes you work to taste the actual fruit juice? Yeah, me too. And for just such an occasion, I keep Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon as a regular tenant in my cellar.
The first time I bought this wine, it was on a whim, thinking (as I always do) that Chateau St. Jean is a good, reliable vintner. I trust they know how to accentuate flavors when called for (as in their Chardonnay), and hold back when needed (hello, Fume Blanc). So, I put my trust in CSJ when picking out a Cab for the evening — something not too bold, but not too timid, but just right. Yes, the Goldilocks standard of Cab-perfection.
PS Yes, this photo is a little crookers…sorry!
About the Wine: There’s not too much info on the winemaking process available, but I can tell you that the Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon is made of 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes from various vineyards in the Sonoma County. CSJ is quite a large wine-making entity, and I’m sure they have their pick of the lots when it comes to vineyards — at least it sure tastes like it.
I cannot say for certain about the aging process, but my best educated guess would be that they use a combination of (low percentage) new oak and old. (Again, it sure tastes like it)
Flavor Profile: Visually, this wine is as you’d expect. It’s darker in hue — I’d call it a confident rouge (to my eyes, a darker red with flecks of brown). The aroma, however, will have your mouth salivating the second you pour from bottle to glass. Deep, dark plums, black grapes, and bush-berries (blackberries, boysenberries) will fill your lungs as you breathe in. But what truly makes just smelling the wine an experience is the distinct woodsy undertone reminiscent of earthy baking spices (I’m thinking nutmeg and/or clove here).
On the palate, Chateau St. Jean Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon is well-balanced from start to finish. Those dark fruits are present, but walk hand-in-hand with that earthy aroma which, in the mouth, take on a deeper quality — like that of a bit of dried dirt (Please note: that’s a good thing). Acidity is certainly low, while the tannins are a solid medium, meaning the wine has body, structure, but isn’t dry like may tannic Cabs. The reason that I speculate a certain percentage of new oak is because the mouthfeel is quite soft and supple from beginning to about mid-palate. It isn’t until the very end that you can sense a bit more of those tannins, but even then it seems they’re just peeking through to say a timid hello.
The finish is quite joyous because as you swallow and exhale, you can, again, get a sense of those dark fruits and bush-berries.
Food Pairing: Please enjoy this wine with a steak (my cut of choice will always be filet mignon) cooked medium or medium-rare (I like mine rare-medium) because this wine deserves something as strong and as confident alongside it. However, please also accompany your steak of choice with a celebration of fruit flavors. I enjoyed this wine with my “rare-medium” filet mignon atop a green salad garnished with fresh blueberries, blue cheese, and a mild vinaigrette.
More Info: If you haven’t read my other Chateau St. Jean reviews, please do so. They have a large library of wines available to the average consumer. I was able to purchase this wine at Safeway (Sale Price:).
I’d love to try some of their reserve wines (honestly any one of them — they all seem amazing). I haven’t yet seen these in my local shops, but will certainly keep my eyes peeled. Of course, for more info about Chateau St. Jean, visit the Chateau St. Jean website.
I know I keep saying I’m going to get myself to Sonoma. If/when I do, I’ve heard that the CSJ estate is a sight to behold!
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