If your travels take you to the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle area, a trip to nearby Woodinville and Chateau St. Michelle is a must. I first set foot on the wooded 87-acre property during a festive jazz concert some eight years ago and enjoyed their Cabinet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, the staples of the wine industry at that time.
Recently, Chateau St. Michelle was the favored winery at the elite Orange County Pacific Symphony Wine Festival at the five-diamond Island Resort Hotel in Newport Beach. It was a choice event for just 300 guests, all that were allowed for this intimate setting.
Kyle Twitchell, the winery’s rep, poured the 2007 Eroica Riesling, the 2005 Artist Series Bordeaux and the 2005 Col Solare, all of which we have mentioned in previous columns as excellence in a bottle and a prime example of the exclusive flavors of Washington state.
Chateaux St. Michelle began making wine in 1934, the oldest winery in Washington, with grape growing in the eastern Washington Columbia Valley. The state is now the second-largest producer in the U.S. but still far behind California in number of wineries and acreage grown. It produces more than 20 grape varietals, about 44 percent red and 56 percent white.
Cabernet Sauvignon barely edges out Merlot as the state’s most frequently offered red. The long, hot summer days in the shortened growing season, along with colder nights, contribute to a superior growing ground for Cab and its big, heady bouquet and fruity character.
None is a more stunning example than the 2005 Col Solare which in Italian means “shining hill.” An unusually cool harvest gave the grape longer hang time and matured the fruit for intense sugar development. A blend of 71 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Merlot and 4 percent Cabernet Franc, a partnership of Tuscany’s Marchese Antinori and 26-month aging, created a unanimity of mission and purpose — the most excellent wine ever to come out of Chateau St. Michelle.
The next Pacific Symphony grand tasting experience will be Aug. 1. For ticket pricing and more information, visit www.PacificSymphony.org or call (714) 876-2363.
Value wines of the month
— Chateau St. Jean, Sonoma, Pinot Noir 2006 for $14. This wine is from Carneros and Russian River Valley growing grounds, Pinot Noir country in California. Lush cherry flavor envelopes the palate with an easy-feeling finish.
— Colle Maggio, Italy, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2005 for $18. This red grape varietal is causing a stir for fans of luscious central Italian wines. This new kid in town is making some forget about Sangiovese.
— La Cereza, Temecula, Viognier 2007 for $24.95. Pronounce it any way you want, but call it the next big tasting white to eventually compete with Chardonnay. This one wins gold this year at the Pacific Rim competition with its tropical taste of ripe apricots and peach.
— Montes Alpha, Chile, Syrah 2006 for $15. Benchmark for Chilean wines, premium wine without the premium price. Mountain vineyards give it a taste-now model of a French Rhone varietal.
— Pedroncelli, Dry Creek Sonoma, Zinfandel 2006 for $18. Consistent quality from three generations of Pedroncellis. Jammy concentrated fruit sets the table for a structured, full mouth-feel. Pass the cheese pizza!
— Firefly Grill and Wine Bar in Encinitas innovates its new Small Plates Menu and Wine Flight of the Night, served nightly in the bar. Menu items get down to half price during happy hours 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Items like Tapas Trio and Sauteed Jumbo Shrimp are sure to please. Wine Flights are also half price during happy hours. For details, call (760) 635-1066.
—Roll Out the Barrel, a great event produced by Meritage Wine Market in Encinitas, returns Sat. May 16 on location at Humphrey’s at Shelter Island San Diego from 5 to 8pm. It benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation. 456 wineries, live auction and concert included. Call 858-707-9474 for details.
—Wine Vault & Bistro in San Diego’s Little Italy on India Street will present a Tablas Creek wine dinner from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. May 19. A full seven-course dinner and great wines from the Paso Robles area for just $47.50. Call (619) 295-3939 to RSVP.
— Wine Styles in Encinitas is uncorking something special May 20. From 6 to 8 p.m., enjoy Italian Food and Wine with six wines paired with appetizers and desserts. The cost is $25 per person. RSVP at (760) 633-0057.
— From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 21, Holiday Wine Cellar welcomes winemaker Ryan Hill from Napa’s Hill Family Estate, who will be pouring his best. Cost is $15 and you can get details at (760) 745-1200.
Over 30 years of communication skills, including broadcast, copy, press relations & strategic marketing support in retail, financial and civic. Owner of Taste Of Wine, a multi-media information and commentary column and internet platform, since 2005. “I count goal-setting, problem-solving and an understanding of the wine communication universe as my strongest professional assets.”