"Wine is water come of age." - Father Capon

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Two Really Satisfying Washington Wines

The other night we had a special family dinner after a long day of moving a generator and two sets of batteries. To go with dinner we choose two bottles of wine from Washington State that none of us had tried before: Chateau Ste. Michelle Canoe Ridge Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and Northstar Columbia Valley Merlot 2006. Both bottles were priced in the low 20s. Since they were about twice as much as the bottles I normally drink, I was interested to see if we would like them well enough to buy them again (which in my book is always a sign of a good wine regardless of the price point). I am happy to report that we all loved them and not only would buy them again, but would heartily recommend them to our friends. I opened both bottles a couple of hours beforehand to let them breathe and was immediately impressed by the color of the Ste. Michelle; the cork was stained a really dark purple/red. The concentration continued on the nose too: dark cherries and tobacco. It's beautiful in the glass, very dark and viscous looking - almost brooding. Wow, it is a joy on the palate. Full and rich, like riding in your grandpa's Cadillac, but at the same time quite supple and balanced (defying its brooding appearance). The tannins were amazingly well integrated for a 2007. All in all, this was really enjoyable to drink, a beautifully crafted wine with power and elegance. You can read Ste. Michelle's profile sheet here. The Northstar showed well too. It reminded me of why I really enjoy Washington St. Merlot. Though lighter in color than the Ste. Michelle, it was equally intriguing on the nose. The winery's description matched my impressions (not always the case): "Elegant and medium-bodied with bold aromas of raspberry, mint, maple, chocolate, clove, coconut and licorice. Dense, muscular, cherry fruit flavors culminate in a rich, smoky, coffee-mocha finish." The only thing they don't mention is the oak, which was prominent on the nose and added spicy notes to the finish. However, it was not overwhelming and became even more integrated with air time (I would decant this next time). This was also very satisfying to drink and really grew on me as the evening progressed. You can view the Northstar fact sheet here. Find these wines if you can, they would make excellent companions to Thanksgiving dinner (for those of you who are not Pinot fans) or Christmas prime rib.  

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