Thursday, September 21, 2023

Chateau St Jean Malbec Reserve with Murray's Blue Cheese

Chateau St Jean Malbec Reserve with Murray's Blue Cheese

While at the local Mariano's Grocery, we picked up some artisan Murray's Blue Cheese at the cheese shop and were eager to try it with some fresh baked bread and wine. 

This Treasure Cave® brand Blue Cheese has a long and rich history as the first commercially produced blue cheese brand in the United States. In 1935, caves in Faribault, Minnesota, were renovated and turned into a cheese-making facility. The caves provided the right temperature and environment to produce authentic, cave-aged cheeses. Produced in caves, Treasure Cave cheeses today are made in a state-of-the-art facility in Almena, Wisconsin, with curing cells to finalize the production while ensuring consistent quality of the brand's blue and gorgonzola cheeses.

I've written in these pages about the irony that Murray's Cheese shop and wine and cheese bar/restaurant on Bleeker Street in New York City, Greenwich Village, one of our favorite eateries there, sold out to national retail grocer Kroger, who also took over local Chicago grocer Mariano's. Hence, the iconic New York cheese purveyor now has an in-store cheese shop in our neighborhood grocery here in Naperville. 

Previous posts featuring Murray's Cheese in these pages:

Murray's Cheese Restaurant and wine bar on Bleeker Street in the Greenwich Village - Ultimate Wine Cheese Experience

Coronavirus Virtual Family Dinner and Birthday Celebration
features Murrays Cheese Pairing

Murray's Cheese - and wine too

Murray's Cheese Wine Dinner

Looking at guidance from several cheese and wine sites, several suggested Malbec as an ideal wine for pairing with Blue Cheese, so I pulled from our cellar this premium Reserve Malbec for a cheese and wine pairing. 

Chateau St Jean Sonoma County Malbec Reserve 2013

We tasted and obtained this label as part of a Reserve wine flight pairing at the Chateau St Jean estate during our Sonoma Napa Wine Experience back in 2017.  I featured that tasting in a blogpost in these pages at the time - July 30, 2017 - Chateau St Jean Sonoma Reserve Private Tasting

Our Pour Boys 2017 Sonoma Napa Wine Experience started on the Sonoma Coast and worked east along the Russian River Valley ending up in Sonoma Valley at one of its crown jewel estates, Chateau St Jean. Bill C., a wine club member arranged for a special Reserve private tasting. 
The Chateau St Jean estate is one of the most picturesque and authentic in the Sonoma Valley and is more civil and hospitable than some of the garish ostentatious properties in the more highly commercialized Napa Valley. This was a perfect buffer and transition from the more relaxed Sonoma County to the Valley as we transitioned to spend the coming week in Napa (Valley).

Private tastings are held in the cottage (shown right) across the courtyard from the hospitality center. 

We've visited the estate and done tastings there numerous times over the years. Sonoma Harvest '09 - Chateau St Jean and again Sonoma Valley Wine Experience 2009 - Chateau St Jean.

This label was one of the highlights of that tasting. 

Chateau St Jean Sonoma County Reserve Malbec 2013

Malbec grapes tend to have a dark inky color and robust tannins. It is one of the six designated grapes allowed in the blend of red Bordeaux wine. It is added to the blend to add deep color, intensity, tannin, structure, and complexity to the wine. 

The Malbec grape is thin-skinned tends to need more sun and heat than either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot to mature. The grape became less popular in Bordeaux after a devastating frost in 1956 killed off 75% of the crop forcing replanting of the varietal. 

The grape is included in the blend to add dark color, body and structure to the wine. As the trend to robust forward wines became more popular, many producers crafted wines that were a majority, even100% Malbec. The varietal gained notoriety and become popular as one of the main varietals planted in Argentina.

This St Jean label is produced and released in very limited quantities and hence is only available to wine club members at the winery.

Winemaker's notes: The Reserve Malbec was blended with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon (6%) to round out the final vintage. Individual lots of each variety were aged separately for 28 months exclusively in small French oak barrels with only 5% being new barrels. Barrel by barrel, each lot was tasted and the most outstanding Malbec barrels were selected and then blended with specific lots of Cabernet Sauvignon to complete the final wine.

This 2013 Reserve Malbec offers bright aromas of boysenberry and blackberry fruit, subtle clove spice and a high-tone violet floral note. The inviting nose leads to a full, plush palate with powerful yet well-integrated and smooth tannins. Flavors of boysenberry jam, black cherry and spice are distinct on the palate. The wine is round with balanced acidity leading to a lengthy and flavorful finish.

Winemaker Margo Van Staaveren has championed Malbec and believes the variety flourishes in Sonoma at selected sites. It has become one of her favorite wines to bottle as a varietal. The Malbec for this wine comes from the Asti Vineyard in Alexander Valley at the northern end of Sonoma County as well as the St. Jean Estate vineyard in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The beautiful 2013 growing season resulted in wines with great depth of flavor, intense color and excellent balance. The Malbec consistently ripened with a concentrated core of fruit balanced by bright acidity.
This was a nice pairing with it's robust full flavors standing up to the hearty cheese.