Chateau St. Jean 2005 Reserve Merlot (Sonoma County)
96 Points Editors’ Choice

Easily one of the greatest California Merlots ever. Notable for its complete balance. Nothing sticks out; all the parts work together. The black cherry, plum, black currant, dark chocolate and licorice fruit is big, but perfectly balanced with smoky, sweet oak, while a subtle touch of violets brings a smack of the earth. The tannin-acid structure is just beautiful. Will continue to develop bottle complexity for at least six more years.

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About the Wine Enthusiast Buying Guide

Tasting Methodology and Goals

All tastings reported in the Buying Guide are performed blind. Typically, products are tasted in peer-group flights of from 5–8 samples. Reviewers may know general information about a flight to provide context—vintage, variety or appellation—but never the producer or retail price of any given selection. When possible, products considered flawed or uncustomary are retasted.

About the Scores

Ratings reflect what our editors felt about a particular product. Beyond the rating, we encourage you to read the accompanying tasting note to learn about a product’s special characteristics.

    • 98–100
    • Classic
    • The pinnacle of quality.
    • 94–97
    • Superb
    • A great achievement.
    • 90–93
    • Excellent
    • Highly recommended.
    • 87–89
    • Very Good
    • Often good value; well recommended.
    • 83–86
    • Good
    • Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value.
    • 80–82
    • Acceptable
    • Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances.

Products deemed Unacceptable (receiving a rating below 80 points) are not reviewed.

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Special Designations

Editors' Choice wines are those that offer excellent quality at a price above our Best Buy range, or a wine at any price with unique qualities that merit special attention.

Cellar Selections are wines deemed highly collectible and/or requiring time in a temperature-controlled wine cellar to reach their maximum potential. A Cellar Selection designation does not mean that a wine must be stored to be enjoyed, but that cellaring will probably result in a more enjoyable bottle. In general, an optimum time for cellaring will be indicated.

Best Buys are wines that offer a high level of quality in relation to price. There are no specific guidelines or formulae for determining Best Buys, but they are generally priced at $15 or less.

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