Chateau St. Jean Cinq Cepages (half-bottle) 2003
Cinq Cépages ("Five Varieties") is a Bordeaux-style blend consisting of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Malbec, and 2% Petit Verdot. Each component is aged separately for two years in small French oak barrels (56% new) before blending. Once the wine is assembled, it spends six months in the bottle before release.
Fruit for this Cabernet Sauvignon was selected from the finest Bordeaux variety vineyards in Sonoma County: 60% from Alexander Valley, 15% from Sonoma Valley, 15% from Knights Valley, 6% from Russian River Valley and 4% Dry Creek Valley to assemble a wine that showcases Sonoma County. The Alexander Valley grapes highlight bright berry with back notes of dried herbs, while the Sonoma Valley fruit is from the St. Jean Estate Vineyard, and brings black and dense mountain fruit to the blend. The Knights Valley fruit adds a firm mouthfeel and pronounced tannins and the Dry Creek Valley grapes tend toward dark, dense black cherry and berry fruit flavors with a rich mouthfeel. The Russian River Valley brings exotic aromas and lush textures to complete the blend.
A classic Cinq Cépages, the 2003 vintage offers the signature chocolate-covered cherry and boysenberry aromas that have come to define this flagship Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon. Lush, elegant and gracefully balanced, the wine delivers sweet plum and dark berry flavors and an exotic floral note that wraps around big, juicy tannins. This highly concentrated wine has beautiful oak integration and a lushness throughout that leads to a lingering finish.
Founded in 1973 in the Sonoma Valley, Chateau St. Jean is the quintessential Sonoma winery. Chateau St. Jean produces an extensive portfolio of Sonoma County wines as well as vineyard designated wines, limited production Reserve wines, and the flagship Cinq Cépages Cabernet Sauvignon. Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren uses her more than 30 years of vineyard and winemaking expertise with Chateau St. Jean to continue the tradition of highlighting the best of each vineyard site to produce exceptional wines. Chateau St. Jean was the first Sonoma winery to be awarded the prestigious “Wine of the Year” award from Wine Spectator Magazine for its 1996 Cinq Cépages, a Bordeaux style blend of “five varieties” and has long been recognized as a leader in vineyard designated wines.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.
Tasting Notes for Bordeaux Blends
Bordeaux Blends are dry, red wines and generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, black cherry plum, graphite, cedar and violet. Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines, modeled after the Right Bank, are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure.
Perfect Food Pairings for Bordeaux Blends
Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.
Sommelier Secrets for Bordeaux Blends
While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.