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Chateau Ste Michelle

Chateau Ste Michelle

Chateau Ste Michelle makes some the Pacific Northwest's most popular wines. Chateau Ste. Michelle's winemakers produce an array of highly rated, well priced red and white wines that have garnered scores of national and international awards.

Chateau Ste Michelle's vineyards are located in Washington state's Columbia Valley, a region separated from Seattle's rainy, marine climate by the Cascade Mountains. The mountains act as a rain shield limiting annual rainfall in the Columbia Valley to 6 - 8 inches and allowing our vineyard managers to control vine vigor through irrigation. During the summer, daytime temperatures hover in the mid-80s under sunny skies; cool nighttime temperatures in the fall protect the grapes' natural acidity and provide perfect conditions for ripening.


More About Chateau Ste Michelle

Canoe Ridge Estate Vineyard

Canoe Ridge was formed 12 million years ago when a powerful river of lava flowed across the Columbia Valley. The ancient lava flows followed the Columbia River and left huge layers of basalt behind. Deep, free-draining soils sit on top of the basalt, deposited by great floods from the last Ice Age 13,000 years ago. The soils are a loose, sandy loam scattered with chunks of basalt. Young vines in search of water and nutrients easily establish deep root systems here.

Our vineyard is planted on the south face of the ridge that rises 950 feet above sea level. The steep slope and the vineyard's proximity to the river alleviate frost pockets and seasonal temperature extremes. Because winters are milder than other parts of the valley, spring bud break is earlier. In the summer, the river moderates temperatures again, giving us an extended growing season and adding more character to the grapes.

Flavor profiles
Chardonnay: Delicate; tropical fruit
Merlot: Black cherry, licorice
Cabernet Sauvignon: Juniper berry, cassis, black fruit

Cold Creek Vineyard

Cold Creek is one of the oldest vineyards in the Columbia Valley, and since we first planted here in 1973, it's developed quite a reputation for rich, flavorful grapes. The weak soil at Cold Creek - a silty loam - has a lot to do with the intensity of the fruit. Grape vines are an obstinate lot. Those grown in meager soils, like Cold Creek, tend to produce moderate crops and concentrated grapes. Cold Creek's soil is also lighter and drains easier than most other Columbia Valley vineyards. This is a real advantage for us, especially because Cold Creek is one of the driest sites in the state. Since it rarely rains here, we use irrigation to control water to the vine. We're stingy with it too because less water seems to dial up the grapes' flavor. The vineyard is one the warmest in the state, and this also makes a difference. Not only does Cold Creek provide us with fully mature fruit, the warm temperatures keep the berries small, adding intensity to the grapes at harvest.

Flavor profiles
Riesling: Apricot, honeysuckle, tangerine
Chardonnay: Classic pear, apple
Merlot: Ripe berry, mocha
Cabernet Sauvignon: Intense; cherry, raspberry

Horse Heaven
As its name suggestions, Horse Heaven Vineyard is located in the Horse Heaven Hills adjacent to the Columbia River 20 miles south of Prosser, Washington. The vineyard's quick-draining soils are deposited on a rocky volcanic base of fractured basalt. We first planted Sauvignon Blanc here in the 1980's on the south side of the vineyard. Irrigation management is an important part of the quality of the fruit we harvest. The area's low annual rainfall and the vineyard's free-draining soils allow us to control water to the vine to keep the Sauvignon Blanc from becoming overly aggressive.

Flavor profiles
Sauvignon Blanc: Grapefruit, tropical fruit

Indian Wells Vineyard

Indian Wells sits at the base of the Wahluke Slope and is one of the few west-facing vineyards in the Columbia Valley. With its rows planted north to south, the vines receive plenty of afternoon heat. The grapes take full advantage of these warm afternoons to assert ripe fruit flavors. The contrasting cool nights promote good structure, balance and color intensity.

At one time, the Columbia River flowed over what is now Indian Wells. A sizeable sandbar nearby is a reminder of the vineyard's origins; and the soil composition, a mix of river gravel and sand, reflects the river's ancient course. The soil here is sandier than the surrounding properties. Nutrient poor but well-aerated, the sandy cobble encourages vines to work hard to find water. These difficult conditions help to keep vegetative growth in check, encouraging the vine to put energy into its grapes first. The differences in flavor and varietal exuberance are marked, and you can taste them in the wines from Indian Wells.

Flavor profiles
Chardonnay: Crisp apple, pear
Merlot: Rich black fruit, raspberry

Reserve Vineyards

CSM uses the very best sections of their many vineyards to produce their highly regarded "reserve" wines.

If CSM's Single Vineyard wines are best described as representing "Old World" winemaking dedicated to terroir, then the Reserves are best expressed as "New World" winemaking dedicated to the grape.

Produced in extremely limited quantities representing no more than 1% of a vintage, CSM's Reserve wines are crafted to represent the best of a varietal. The most ideal sections of the best vineyards are identified based on their quality history, then farmed within winemaker specifications to insure the best fruit possible from each site.

These small lots of fruit are harvested and vinified separately. Prior to determining the final blend, the winemaker will taste each lot, create a variety of combinations and, listening to his own palette, choose the lots that will make up the finished wine. This allows CSM winemakers to combine the distinct characteristics from each vineyard into a multi-layered, harmonious blend producing an age-worthy wine of uncompromising quality and character.

Chateau Ste Michelle's Partnerships:
Col Solare and Eroica

Col Solare
Before there was a wine, there are an idea -- to form a partnership between Tuscany's Marchesi Antinori and Washington State's Chateau Ste. Michelle and together explore what the vineyards of the Columbia Valley might yield.

Col Solare is the result, a wine of global distinction that quickly earned a place in the critics' hearts with the debut of the 1995 and 1996 vintages.

A blended red wine with great structure and character from the vineyards of the Columbia Valley, Col Solare is styled for aging elegantly over time. Quantities are extremely limited.

Antinori is one of Italy's most important producers. Though the family has been making wines since the 14th century, Piero Antinori has never let tradition stand in the way of innovation. He pioneered Super Tuscan wines such as Tignanello and holds vineyards in not only Tuscany but also Piedmont, Umbria, California and Hungary.

Could Eroica be the beginning of the Riesling Renaissance many wine lovers believe is long overdue? Named after Beethoven's masterpiece, the winemaking partnership between famed Mosel winemaker Dr. Ernst Loosen and Chateau Ste. Michelle enjoyed a standing ovation at the August 2000 debut of the 1999 vintage. The partnership is dedicated to exploring a wide range of Riesling styles with grapes from the Columbia Valley.

The estate of Dr. Loosen owns some of the most renowned sites on the Mosel in Wehlen, Urzig and Erden and is acclaimed as one of Germany's most consistent quality producers across a range of styles, from dry to sweet.

Everything is coming up Riesling
By Christina Kelly
Avalon Staff Writer

The first time I saw Eroica, a new Riesling made by Chateau Ste. Michelle, I thought the label read, "Erotica."

"I'll take two of those," I said to the clerk, grinning from ear to ear, oblivious to my dyslexia.

read the entire article here

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