Back before wine mavens were sure that '04 was gonna be the year for
Napa grapes and a good year for California wines altogether,
we acquired several cases of "Chateau Souverain" Chardonnay. Although
personally I find the use for Chardonnays limited, I was compelled to invest in
the wine that Wine Spectator magazine awarded a 91 score and, of course, their
"Best Buy" designation because this Chard was, at the time, about $12 a bottle
retail and substantially lower wholesale.
When the '04 Souverain Chard was put up for sale, Estancia Vineyards "ruled
the world;" of Chardonnays, at least. Suffice it to say that the '04 Estancia
was a popular wine. However, if one wants to drink what I deem to be "flat
Champagne" with one's meal, then I'd recommend the Estancia Vineyards.
Now, the '04 Souverain Chardonnay mates perfectly with precious few foods. We
like ours with a bacon-wrapped grilled Filet Mignon with a balsamic
vinegar-based Bearnaise sauce.
I know you're saying "Ick. bacon and an emulsified butter sauce. Believe
me that this becomes a decadent guilty pleasure when cut with the delectable
oakey smooth refreshment of this wine. Since Souverain did not include
malolactic fermentation in their process (opting instead for zingy oak from
French barrels) the wine cries out for rich foods. Indeed, this wine is the
archetypal "white that thinks it's a red" if only for its complexity. Add to
that the necessity to drink this wine young (although I'd hazard a guess that
chilled bottles would last for at least four more years) and you've a perfect
For cocktail drinking, the Souverain rules; it's best served over-chilled at
about 40 degrees fahrenheit, in small portions. The complexity of the delightful
yet never-cloying fruit flavors expose themselves to the drinker as the wine
In summation, the flavor comes through all over one's palate but stops
abruptly. This would not be acceptable in a Chard four times the price. However,
in the delightfully refreshing yet complex Chard from Souverain's '04 harvest,
it's just what you want.