An intriguing range of citrus flavors

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The 2010 Chateau St. Jean Fume Blanc offers floral aromatics with overtones of white grapefruit and peach. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media

Chateau St Jean is a showpiece of the Sonoma Valley, located at the base of the Mayacamas Mountain Range, also known as Sugar Loaf Ridge. In the 1920s it served as the summer residence of Ernest Goff and his family from Saginaw, Mich., but in 1973 it was transformed into a picturesque winery under the guidance of Richard Arrowood. The vision of the winery was to focus on single vineyard whites under the names of Robert Young and Belle Terre Vineyards.

St Jean soon established its credentials and loyal following, while in the background current winemaker Margo Van Staavern served as a lab technician. Her husband Don took over winemaking duties next, bringing recognition to the reds of Chateau St Jean with the 1996 Chateau St Jean Cinq Cepages red Bordeaux blend. It earned the right as “Wine of the Year” by the Wine Spectator in 1999.

Soon afterwards it was Margo’s turn to carve her signature on the single vineyard wines from the estate. In 2008 she was voted “Winemaker of the Year” by the Wine Enthusiast and her tenure has now spanned over 30 years at the winery. She continues to focus her talents on allowing each of the vineyards to express their unique personality traits or “sense of place” while advancing the distinction of each of the St Jean wines.

La Petite Etoile, “the little star,” is a small 44-acre plot of vineyard in the cool, fog-influenced coastal region of the Russian River Valley. It has always been one of my favorite fumes because of its distinctly expressive style. This blend has 30 percent Sauvignon Musque, which enhances the floral aromatics of the wine with classic white grapefruit and peach overtones. Within there is kiwi, orange rind and silken lime oil flavors that are elegant and never overpowering. This wine has an intriguing range of citrus flavors, which may compel you to drink this wine with nearly anything.

Suggested Retail: $18.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits. Email him at