In 1967, American Wine Growers began a new line of premium vinifera wines called “Ste. Michelle Vintners” under the direction of legendary California winemaker Andre Tchelistcheff (best known for his work at Beaulieu Vineyard). Later known as Chateau Ste. Michelle, it is one of the founding wineries of Washington State.
Located in the Columbia Valley, Chateau Ste. Michelle produces several collections and labels. Among them are the Ethos, Artist, Single Vineyards—Canoe Ridge, Horse Heaven, and Cold Creek--and Eroica (a partnership with renowned Mosel winemaker Ernst Loosen, producing Riesling).
This is just this side of unctuous, a decadently ripe and rich late harvest Riesling. The residual sugar is at 23%, the alcohol a moderate 8%, and the balance impeccable, with a buoyant underpinning to the intense sweetness. It avoids sugary granularity as well, offering seamless, concentrated fruit that piles on flavors of peach, apricot, banana, mango, papaya and…
A brilliant effort, sophisticated and modern. Leesy, textured, long and elegant, the winemaker’s light touch balances hints of herb, yeast and hints of new oak against gorgeous fruit. No reliance on buttered popcorn flavors or excessive new toasty oak.
This very limited (600 cases) companion to the winery’s Ethos chardonnay marks a turnaround for Ste. Michelle’s red wine program, as Bob Bertheau came on board just before the 2003 crush. The style is seductive, sharp and spicy; the tart fruits tumble out in a pile of mixed berry and cherry. Chocolate and baking spices add more flavors; the wine is seamless, smooth…
A full-throttle effort, with big flavor swashes of blackberry, cassis, black pepper, coffee grounds and ripe tannins. This is Cold Creek Merlot at its most powerful; the 35-year-old vines are in their prime and the flavors show it. Few American Merlots—indeed few in the world—can stand on their own and deliver a wine this complete and powerful. It needs more years…
A brilliant success, with concentrated, multi-layered flavors that let the crisp, structured fruit stand out against the tastefully used new French oak. This is as good as Washington chardonnay gets, and clearly deserves its reserve status.
Winemaker Bob Bertheau lays back on the new oak and gives this great vineyard its due. A classic spine of juicy acid, with ripe—but not fat—citrus and apricot flavors. Long, balanced and tightly focused.
The Cabernet from Cold Creek is not only old vine, but in terms of tightness and definition, it suggests that it may be one of the most ageworthy wines of the vintage from Washington State. This new vintage blends in 10% Merlot and 3% Syrah, and the wine is detailed with iron filings, pepper, bark, and dried earth notes. The fruit is tight, tart, and racy—a…
In 2010 the Cold Creek Riesling is actually a touch sweeter than Eroica, with unusually low alcohol as well. Compact and at the same time full-bodied, this mesh of primary citrus and stone fruits is marvelous, but clearly the best is yet to come. It will reward cellaring!