I love finding wines like this. I walk into CVS lookin for something and there’s this stack of classic 2007 Sonoma County Merlot on clearance for 9.99 RIGHT NEXT TO their commonly-marketed mere ‘California’ appellation offering for $13. Clearly, someone found it in the back room and wants to get rid of it. I can’t resist. Mostly because people constantly ask me for super-market wine advice and Chateau St. Jean is usually at the top of my list. You pretty much can NOT go wrong, and I must do my research if I am going to advise. Also, there seems to be a clear direction among grocery marketers to eliminate the higher-end appellation facings in favor of the ‘California’ bottlings. I see it almost daily. This is a 25$ wine and although mass-produced, carries with it a great pedigree and marvelous consistency. So it is nectar for me–both from the reduced price-point and the slim chance of finding something aged and wonderful. The fact they are casting-off a beautiful bottle of quality wine for less than the price of basic plonk sweetens the deal. But then again… it IS Merlot, and with these findings come a certain expectancy of what you are probably going to get–and I was not wrong here–but it is still fun.
Deep, perfectly clear ruby with slightly-bricking edges. Gentle toasty, nutty nose of tahini and a bit of eucalyptus come out of the glass. Nothing earth-shattering, but pleasant. Definite polish of age in the bouquet and a touch of creamy alcohol. Fruit is basically gone. A little deep, dark cherry, but of a bright, shallow variety highlighted by crisp acid all through the mouth-feel. Everything thins out in classic Merlot fashion through the middle and fades into nothingness. Still-ample tannin wrap up the finish and will far-outlast the fruit. This is not a wonderful wine. It is also not a horrible wine. It is an entirely serviceable wine with the lovely patina of age and at its absolute PEAK. It needs to be drank now, but such an interesting find among the 2011’s and 2012’s. The interesting part is: I have drank Merlot three times this price which followed the same *amazing nose/fading fruit/ample tannin* profile. But in this case, the wine is totally accessible. I imagine some unsuspecting bloke wandering into the store for a bottle to open for some amazingly hot babe he met on Match.com and is cooking for and, noticing this stack, actually pays attention to the vintage and the appellation and sets down the bottle of Cupcake or Tobin James or Fetzer and picks this up. He takes it home and as he savors the lovely, polished bouquet falls in love with older wines and woos her relentlessly. She thinks him genius and they live happily ever after. Hopefully, she’s a sucker for him as much as I am for these finds.
2007 CHATEAU ST. JEAN Merlot Sonoma County 14.3