You’ll notice we have several wines from Chateau Ste. Michelle in this month’s selection of 24 highly rated wines, under $24, and for good reason. This winery located on 105 wooded acres in Woodinville, 15 miles northeast of Seattle, is Washington’s oldest and most acclaimed winery. Built on a 1912 estate owned by a prominent Seattle lumber baron, this winery began during the Repeal of Prohibition. It wasn’t until 1967 that they took the name of “Ste. Michelle Vintners”. Ste. Michelle Vintners planted its first vines at Cold Creek Vineyard in Eastern Washington in 1972 and to this day Cold Creek remains one of the most renowned vineyards in the state. In 1976 the winery built a French style Chateau and at this time changed their name to the present day Chateau Ste. Michelle.
With several “American Winery of the Year” awards to their credit as well as others, Chateau Ste. Michelle is known for combining Old World traditions with New World innovation and is best known for its award-winning Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Eroica 2011 got a resounding 93 points from Wine Enthusiasts Magazine and Winemaker, Bob Bertheau claims that it has taken a decade of work to “truly find our Eroica style, striving for beautiful bright fruit with crisp acidity and enhanced mineralilty.” The Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay 2011 is a blend of grapes from throughout the state and is a very food-friendly chard with aromas and flavors of pineapple, mango and hints of caramel. The 2010 Chateau Ste. Michelle Merlot is very approachable as well, and its leather and spice aromas and layers of rich, dark red fruit flavors make this an excellent every day red wine. Coming from the warmer climate vineyards is the Chateau Ste. Michelle Red Blend 2010 that combines seven different varietals into one powerful, rich wine that we highly recommend you try with your next batch of barbecue ribs. With this large of a selection from one winery, you can see we must be smitten… and we are. Not that we are getting into the travel business, but if for any reason you find yourself in and around Seattle, Washington, it is our opinion that an excursion to Chateau Ste. Michelle would be time well spent.
Traveling a good distance around the globe, our next two wines originate from two of the ten major wine regions of New Zealand. We chose two Sauvignon Blancs, one from the North and one from the South. This is a great time of year to be drinking Sauvignon Blancs and this area, known for their unique flavor profile of the varietal, takes advantage of the strong contrast between hot sunny days and cool nights extending the grape ripening process and extracting flavors from the grape that no other region can. Our first wine is from the southern kiwi island in the Marlborough region, which is the largest wine district in the country. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2012 is a benchmark wine for this varietal. It is crisp and powerful, with intense aromas of gooseberry, passion fruit and citrus. It is a great match with salads, seafood and vegetarian dishes and perfectly acceptable to be enjoyed on its own. Our second selection is Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc 2012 that hails the area around New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland. The warmest of the regions, this area is less mountainous, heavier in clay and the warmest of the wine regions. Here the grape takes on fleshy tropical melon, guava and ripe gooseberry aromas intermixed with herbaceous notes, while the palate is both intense and inviting with crunchy acidity and great structure. This wine makes the perfect aperitif and is a great match with a prosciutto and melon starter. And did we mention this wine was selected Best Sauvignon Blanc at the Air New Zealand Wine Awards 2012. There you go, worth the excursion.
As we’ve mentioned before in this space, the summer time is a great time to experiment with new grape varietals, so we’ve got two new grapes from the Old World for you to try: the Tibouren and the Gaglioppa grape. Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rosé 2011 from Provence, France is made by creating a rare grape (found in Provence, but originating in Greece or possibly the Middle East) with a unique aging process (aged for one year in the lees). The result is a wine with intense color, spicy aromas with hints of quince and roasted nuts and a palate that is both bold and fresh. The other wine is Vincenzo Ippolito Liber Pater Ciro 2010 produced in the “toe” of the Italian Peninsula, Calabria. This wine is made from the Gaglioppa grape which is indigenous to Calabria and might just be what helps to propel the arid region into the forefront of Southern Italian wines. The grape offers ample aromas and flavors of semi-dried cherry, plum, cherry and raspberry, plus fresh oregano and thyme… now that is Italian done right! So, consider joining us for our Pick 24 Release Party the first Wednesday of the month, when we’ll crack open these and all 24 wines to give you the opportunity to ‘Try Before You Buy’ and discover your new favorites.