Chateau St. Jean
2007 Durell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir • Durell Vineyard
California: Sonoma Coast
What we say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s single vineyard Pinot Noir deserves special recognition as a wine that rises above our already high standards for quality wine selections. We issue these alerts whenever we showcase a really standout wine.
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Mission Codename: The Perfect Loam
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Sonoma County legend, Chateau St. Jean. Direct him to infiltrate the winery, and procure a stellar single vineyard Pinot Noir for our demanding Operatives.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Chateau St. Jean
Wine Subject: 2007 Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard
Winemaker: Margo Van Staaveren
Backgrounder: Our Operatives loved the last Chateau St. Jean wine that we featured, and so we have been keeping the winery under close surveillance – waiting for our chance to spring upon a fantastic single vineyard Pinot Noir. Today’s selection is a delicious and refined Pinot Noir from one of our favorite producers.
The Sonoma Valley AVA is one of the oldest wine growing regions in California with the first vines being planted in the early 1800s. The AVA is located along California Route 12 and its eastern boundary are the southern end of the Mayacama mountains. The unique micro-climate with less rainfall and fog than other parts of the region along with its unique soil provides excellent growing conditions for Pinot Noir as well as Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon
The Durell Vineyard was founded in 1979 by Ed Durell. The vineyard is well known for producing some of Sonoma County’s Pinot Noir grapes, which feature prominently in some of the regions most exclusive and expressive wines.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – A glinting, ruby colored wine with hints of Burgundy-purple in the center, with a slight rim of pink at the edge of the glass. When spun, medium legs traverse the glass steadily.
Smell – Plump and warm with a nose of ripe red cherry, cranberry, pomegranate and sweet syrupy black cherry and blackberry jam. Faint notes of mushroom, tobacco and chocolate follow.
Feel – This medium-bodied wine has a nice balance of smoothness and bright, young acidity with a light tingle of tannins along the gumline.
Taste – Reflective of the nose, the plump ripe fruits and syrupy, jammy fruits all converge in the mouth, then give way to hints of smoke, chocolate and a subtle hint of dried herbs.
Finish – Full fruits and acidity linger at the front of the mouth and the fruit and smoke linger in the mid and rear palate for a surprisingly long but gentle finish.
Conclusion – This wine seems made for a Holiday Feast! The gentle herbal note would beautifully compliment the sage and thyme of a roast poultry or stuffing, while the gentle fruit and acid will beautifully accompany the meat and gravy without overpowering. The cranberry and pomegranate notes also seem tailor-made for cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes! Serve this food-friendly wine with any of you favorite holiday meals. The wine – and you – will be a hit!
In order to learn everything that we could about today’s winery, I was sent in undercover. This time, my job was easy. Posing as a tourist, I took advantage of a handful of the excellent tours and educational opportunities that the winery has to offer.
Not only were these programs fascinating – even for a crusty Wine Spy like myself – but the winery itself is a gorgeous delight. Delightful, too are the people of Chateau St. Jean. In all, I learned a great deal more than I thought I would, and I had a great time doing it as well.
What follows is a list of the wonderful opportunities that exist for Operatives like you. The general public is, of course, invited as well:
The Wine Education Program is an innovative addition to our offerings at the winery. Destined for anyone from the novice to the connoisseur, the program offers courses ranging from an introduction to the basic tools and techniques of wine appreciation to the interactive dynamics of balancing food and wine.
Terroir is French for “sense of place” or a vineyard’s unique combination of climate, soil and growing conditions that will determine a grape’s flavor and intensity. Chateau St. Jean is a pioneer in vineyard designation in Sonoma County; we make “wines of terroir”. Enjoy a guided tour of our stunning estate with an educated host.
Complimentary. Offered Daily at 11am & 2pm. Duration 1/2 hour.
In a majestic setting, we will lead you through a professional tasting of our very best wines presented in fine Riedel glassware. The rich history and winemaking tradition at Chateau St. Jean will be shared as well as savory bites to complement our finest Sonoma County wines.
$25.00 per person. Appointments at 10:30, 1:00 or 3:00. Duration 1 hour.
Taste each component of our “flagship” wine before taking on the challenge of blending this prestigious wine from using all five Bordeaux varietals. This great team building exercise is sure to be a memorable experience for all participants wanting to be “Winemaker for a day!”
$75.00 per person. Eight person minimum. Duration 2 hours.
Your guests will be greeted with a taste of our Pinot Blanc in the beautiful Mediterranean gardens and will enjoy a guided historical & terroir tour. You will then be escorted to a shady patio for a private reserve wine tasting followed by a picnic box lunch with assorted Sonoma County wines.
$50.00 per person. By appointment, 10 guest minimum. Duration 2 hours.
“Cinq Cépages” stands for Five Varieties. You will taste each component of this iconic wine and you will find out what each one of these Bordeaux varieties bring to the final blend. An extensive reserve tasting of our finest wines will conclude this fun and informative exercise.
$25.00 per person. Eight person minimum. Duration 1 1/2 hours.
Call: (707) 833-4134 ext. 5258 to make an appointment.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Chateau St. Jean winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Chateau St. Jean winery can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Wine Advocate Robert Parker, Jr. – The medium ruby-hued 2007 Pinot Noir Durell Vineyard reveals notes of plums, damp earth, and roasted herbs, tart acids, and a distinct herbaceousness. It should be consumed over the next 2-5 years. – February 28, 2010
About This Wine:
This seductive Pinot Noir opens with charming raspberry and cherry fruit aromas along with hints of violet and baking spice. These fruit characters dance on palate, lengthening the fruit impression. The structured tannins are round and long and support the generous fruit and hints of spice from aging in French oak.
The Vineyards: Located in the southwestern foothills of Sonoma Valley in the cool Carneros region, the Durell Vineyard receives the cooling breezes and morning fog from the nearby San Pablo Bay and Pacific Ocean. We source fruit from two different vineyard blocks for our Durell Pinot Noir to achieve fruit intensity, balance and structure. One block is tucked at the base of a steep hill where it receives morning sunshine and is protected from the elements while the other block is on an exposed ridgeline where it prospers from the thin soil and coastal influences.
Winemaking: After primary fermentation, the wine was drained from the skins and sent to barrel the next day. The malolactic fermentation occurred in the barrels and lasted for a month. We were able to retain all of the fruit character from the vineyard and develop richness and integration with the oak components. The wine was aged 15 months in 100% French oak (52% new) and spent an additional 5 months in the bottle before release.
About The Winery:
In 1920, “The Chateau” was built as a summer home for Ernest and Maude Goff, and their children. The family, originally from Saginaw, Michigan, made its fortune in iron mines there, and in lumber in the Pacific Northwest. The 250 acres of land now Chateau St. Jean vineyards were initially planted with white grapes. Prohibition curtailed grape growing, however, and the family opted to grow prunes and walnuts instead.
When Chateau St. Jean was established in 1973, the decision was made to preserve the Goff legacy. “The Chateau” was fully restored and opened to the public. It has since been listed in the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The fishponds in the shape of Lakes Michigan and Huron, and the arched footbridge, delight visitors just as they did 80 years ago.
About The Winemaker:
2006 marked Margo Van Staaveren’s 27th harvest at Chateau St. Jean. During the course of her 25+ year 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.
Margo is a firm believer that great wines are grown – a conviction she shares with the Chateau founders who led the way for Chateau St. Jean to become a pioneer of vineyard designated wines in the early 1970s. To achieve Chateau St. Jean vineyard designation, the superior quality of the vineyards must be proven year after year and the grapes must consistently exhibit exceptional varietal character.
The art of blending is the cornerstone of Margo’s winemaking philosophy. To her, one of the greatest accomplishments is to create a wine style or signature blend that carries from vintage to vintage while still capturing the uniqueness of that particular growing year.
One of the things she enjoys most about her job is putting together the final blend for the Reserve wines. “Since no two vintages are alike, it gives us the opportunity to carefully search for the vineyard lots that offer the biggest fruit expression and the ability to age in order to create a wine that truly captures the best of the vintage,” says Margo. The Reserve wines represent the most concentrated, distinctive and balanced wines made at Chateau St. Jean.
Margo Van Staaveren graduated from the University of California at Davis in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science in Fermentation Science. Shortly after graduation, she joined Chateau St. Jean as a Laboratory Technician in 1980. By 1989, she had worked her way to being named Assistant Winemaker and later named Associate Winemaker. Margo was named Winemaker and Director of Operations for Chateau St. Jean in August of 2003, continuing a rich legacy of winemaking as the fourth winemaker in the winery’s history.
Varietal: Pinot Noir
Appellation: Los Carneros/Sonoma
Vineyard: Durell Vineyard
Harvest Dates: September 3-22, 2007
Harvest Sugar: 26.0° Brix
Total Acidity: 0.52 g/100 ml
Alcohol: 14.7% by volume
Bottled: February 2009
Release: July 2009
Case Production: 788 cases