Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay 2013

Light yellow color; citrus, peach on the nose; lemon, apricot, tangerine, citrus, peach, oak, vanilla on the palate.

Full body with signature viscosity; rich, vibrant, creamy, great acidity (no malolactic fermentation), extra dry (that means there is slightest hint of sweetness in wine lingo), some green apple notes add to the entertaining tartness that plays with the full body and richness. Expertly made, balanced, nice length on the finish. The interplay between fullness, richness, and acidity distinguishes this interesting chard.

Margo Van Staaveren creates this. She has been with Chateau St. Jean for 36 years, somewhat remarkable in a business where talent swims up river, jumping from winery to winery on the way to various tops. Instead, Margo came aboard and worked her way up from lab technician to assistant winemaker, then associate winemaker, then winemaker, following in the footsteps of Richard Arrowood, Don Van Staaveren (her husband) and Steve Reeder. Her husband moved on to something else at Artesa Winery in 1996.

The winery offered Margo the head winemaker job when her husband moved on, but she turned down the job and stayed on as the assistant winemaker because she wanted to spend more time with her two young children. Eight years later, with the children safely older, the winery again offered Margo the winemaker job. She said yes this time.

Margo particularly enjoys working with single vineyard creations, such as the Robert Young vineyard used in this effort, something many California makers eschew because of the abundance of good grapes for various vineyards. Chateau St. Jean marches to the different drummer.

Van Staaveren believes her skill is blending. She seeks to create a signature wine style or blend that can achieve consistency from vintage to vintage while still capturing the unique personality of a particular growing year. Chateau St. Jean delivers dependable, consistent quality.

Chateau St. Jean Robert Young Vineyard Chardonnay 2013 is nicely complex with various elements coming together in intriguing combinations. Not your everyday California chard. $23-25

Chateau St. Jean website

Other photos: Chateau St. Jean photos, Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren, Chateau St. Jean vineyard