Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Chateau St. Jean Belle Terre Chardonnay

Chateau St. Jean
Belle Terre Vineyard
Alexander Valley
Kenwood, California, USA
$13.99 -- Costco, Austin, TX

Color: Medium gold
Nose: Wood, banana, salt cod
Body: Full
Front: Lemon-lime
Middle: Soy sauce, butter
Back: Oak, white pepper
Burns clean?: Mostly
Cap: Cork

It's been late April since I reviewed a Chardonnay--and there are so many great ones out there yet to taste! So I get off the unusual-white-varietal train for a bit.

This is a big, almost frightening sort of wine. It's neither charming, nor particularly elegant. Both the nose and the palate feature things not normally encountered in Chardonnay, including fishy and salty odors and flavors, which I confess I find attractive. In fact, it tastes a lot like a parmesan-encrusted, baked sole with plenty of lemon juice. Partly this is because the acids in this one aren't particularly strong, so as a wine it feels a smidgen out of balance. As a fish I love it.

If you like the ripe oak bomb, you will find this wine to be a big bargain. But there is a hint of nail polish, late in the mid-palate, that will put some folks off.

Loyal readers have demanded my review of Austin wine bars. It's an interesting time here on that score, so I'm going to pony up soon, I promise. A teaser: how often do you find a wine bar where the music is as good as the wine? Or where you can listen to the sweet sounds of a drive-through burger joint next door as you sip? And the kicker: how many of you have been to an Irish wine pub--in the U.S.?