Chateau St. Jean has a long history of crafting expressive Pinot Noir from various regions throughout Sonoma County. This passion for excellence in Pinot Noir has led Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren to the Sonoma Coast, where the Benoist Ranch sits close to San Pablo Bay in a Sonoma corner of Carneros.
Distinctive in every vintage, aromas of rose hips, black tea and savory dried herbs give way to flavors laced with minerality, Luxardo cherries, cola, sweet dark red fruits led by black cherry, with notes of blackberry bramble, cloves and cinnamon spice. Bright acidity is the hallmark of this nicely structured and well-balanced wine with a medium-full mouthfeel and a lingering finish.
In this unique micro-climate, cool weather during spring flowering impacted vine yields, but with lower yields quality generally increases, and that is the tale of this vintage. Ample winter rains continued to recharge aquifers and rebuild storage lost during drought years. Near perfect summer weather with traditional diurnal temperature swings averaging 25-40 degrees defined the sunny days, cool nights mantra. Where August cooled a bit, allowing for extended hang time and allowing flavors to more fully develop, a high-pressure system stalled and held cooling fog off the coast line as September arrived, leading to the earliest harvest experienced at Benoist Ranch, finishing just after Labor Day.
The Benoist Ranch is tucked away in the far Northwest corner of the Carneros, within the Southwest area of the Sonoma Coast appellation. Unlike most of this region, which is largely uplifted bay bottoms with soils composed of clay, the soils at Benoist Ranch are variations of soils influenced by volcanic origin. Combining these well-drained, rocky upland soils with the extreme western location closer to the Pacific Ocean and San Pablo Bay make this site an ideal place to grow Burgundian varieties. The vineyard parcels at Benoist Ranch conform to various soil types and the changing contours of the Ranch topography. Individual vineyards within the Ranch average only eight acres in size and spacing is dense to ensure low per vine yields of fully concentrated fruit.
Fruit from three distinct blocks with varying clones were selected for this vintage, with 70% from Block 2F1 (828), 20% from Block 4D2 (114) and the balance, featuring clone 13, from Block 4D3. Fruit was harvested during cool evening and morning hours and underwent a three-day cold soak prior to fermentation in tank. Malolactic fermentation was completed in 100% French Oak (44%) new before aging for an additional 17 months.
Margo Van Staaveren’s has been Winemaker for Chateau St. Jean since 2003 and has worked at the winery for over 40 harvests. She was named “Winemaker of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2008. During her long 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.
|Oak Treatment||100% French Oak (44% new) for 17 months|
|Blend||100% Pinot Noir|
|Case Production||431 cases|