The second largest wine producer in the US, Washington State is storming onto the world’s stage. With 970 wineries, 23,472ha of vineyards and 14 distinct growing regions, Washington has come a long way in a short period of time. Pioneering wineries blazed a trail for the region to be successful by making remarkable wines of quality even from the first commercial plantings in the 1960s. Today the region is growing at a breakneck pace, with one new winery opening every single week, on average.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Chardonnay and Riesling dominate close to 80% of the region’s plantings, but there’s still plenty of room for experimentation. In fact, the region is only about a quarter of the way planted, leaving enormous potential for vineyard growth. Young talent and outside investment alike are drawn to the pioneering spirit, overall quality and sheer energy in Washington State. The future is bright!
Chateau Ste Michelle
Any discussions about the wines of Washington State has to include the pioneering Chateau Ste Michelle. Originally making fruit wines under the National Wine Company label, Ste Michelle planted Vitis Vinifera in the early 1950s and launched its first wines in 1967. In 1974 the winery was catapulted into the spotlight when its Ste Michelle Riesling came first in a blind tasting by the Los Angeles Times. Since then, the winery has become a training ground for a host of talented winemakers and growers: names like Bob Betz, Mike Janiuk and Bob Berthau have become synonymous with quality in the state’s wine scene. It’s fair to say that Ste Michelle Wine Estates is a driving force in Washington State, and has helped make the region what it is today.
Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling 2017
£9.95 The Wine Society
One of the largest producers of Riesling in the world, Ste Michelle makes a wide range of styles. This is off-dry with a fruity, peach and citrus palate, plus pronounced lemon/lime aromas.
Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
A perfect example of bright, fresh berry fruit that Washington State’s long sunshine hours can produce; balanced crisp, fresh acidity thanks to the region’s cool nights.
Quilceda Creek was founded in 1978 by Alex Golitzin, nephew of legendary Napa winemaker André Tchelistcheff, who consulted for Chateau Ste Michelle in the 1960s. He encouraged Alex to start making his own wine when he moved to Washington State with his wife Jeannette in 1967. Initially making just one barrel of Cabernet Sauvignon per year, today Quilceda Creek is acknowledged as a leading Cabernet producer and is the first American winery from outside California to receive a 100-point score from Robert Parker. Now run by Paul Golitzin, the winery continues to focus on high quality wines from high quality vineyards.
Quilceda Creek Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
£177.60 Stannary St Wine Co
A flagship wine from a wonderful vintage. Impressively deep and rich, with overtones of liquorice, graphite and black tea. Will reward patience; cellar for 25 years or more.
Quilceda Creek CVR
£66.60 Stannary St Wine Co
A blend of grapes from the four Quilceda Creek vineyards. Typical Washington State character: smoke, spice and dark fruits balanced by a spine of minerality. Will age for at least 15 years.
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