Chateau Ste. Michelle is the Mondavi of Washington State. They've been around forever (since 1934) and they're monstrous, producing over 400,000 cases of Reisling. Their total production is a staggering 800,000 plus cases of wine a year. The analogy to Mondavi is appropriate to describe their portfolio which is wide and varied, from fairly generic commercial blends to more exclusive reserve wines and single vineyard designates.
Ste. Michelle is part of the family of wineries that include Conn Creek, Columbia Crest, and Villa Mt. Eden, all of which are owned by Stimson Lane, a division of U.S. Tobacco. They have recently opened a new tasting room that is open to the public.
This wine is 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon from the Horse Heaven Vineyard which was planted in the 1970s next to the Columbia River in Patterson, Washington. The 2002 vintage was unusual in that it started and stayed very hot, nearly resulting in a record early harvest, but then got cooler at the last minute, allowing the grapes to hang longer and gain in complexity and flavor. The wine is fermented in 100% French oak (30% new) and aged on the lees for six months before being racked off. 23,000 cases were made.
Light straw colored in the glass this wine has a nose of hazelnuts, clover honey, and meyer lemons. In the mouth it has a nice acidity balance with flavors of honey, lemon zest, and a finish that tapers towards a hint of orange blossoms. More so than other wines I have had from this producer, this wine has a particularly unique personality that is subtle and satisfying.
The semillion component to the wine makes it slightly more silky and creamy than your usual sauvignon blanc and allows it to work with a lot of foods. I think its a great picnic wine and would be a perfect
accompaniment to grilled fontina and caponata panini.
Overall Score: 8.5/9
How Much?: $14
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