In Washington State, you will find one of the top producers of high-quality wine. They are called Chateau Ste Michelle. They are one of the oldest wineries in the state and produce millions of crates of wine every year. In fact, they produce 8 million crates of Riesling. This wine is the subject of this article and we will be telling you more about it in due course.
The company has grown so much that they now have 60 wineries and their wine can be found in more than 100 countries throughout the world. If you want wine for any occasion, be it a family dinner or a dinner party, Chateau Ste Michelle is the company for you. The good thing about them is that you get high-quality wine for a reasonable price.
The History of Chateau Ste Michelle
In 1954, the American Wine Growers created Chateau Ste Michelle after the Pomerello Wine Company and the National Wine Company merged.
Chateau Ste Michelle is set on 87 acres and the building is built in a French style. It is 20 miles north of Seattle and is close to Woodinville. The estate is surrounded by mature trees, which are magnificent and mark the estate\s boundaries.
The company specializes in growing the Vitis Vinifera grape, although of course, this isn’t the only grape that they grow. As well as Riesling, they produce Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. They are the world’s biggest producer of Riesling and they have been producing it for over 45 years which shows how popular it is.
Chateau Ste Michelle has paired with other wineries to create the best wine possible. The companies that they have partnered with are Chinook, Eroica, and Col Solaro which is in partnership with Perio Antinon. In addition, they formed business agreements with Columbia Crest Winery, the second largest Washington State winery. In 2016, they bought Pate & Hall which produces an excellent Chardonnay.
Chateau Ste Michelle has won awards for their excellent wine, including The American Wine of the year in the Wine Enthusiast magazine in 2004.
Seven Things You Should Know About Chateau Ste Michelle
Chateau Ste Michelle has plenty of prestige, not only in Washington State but all around the world. It became famous in 1974 after their 1972 Riesling won a competition. The Los Angeles Times set up a blind tasting of 19 Rieslings and Chateau Ste Michelle came out on top.
Here we will tell you a few facts about Chateau Ste Michelle.
1. The Battle of the Rieslings
We have already told you a little about the battle of the 19 Rieslings. Not all the Rieslings came from the US, but the Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling beat them all, even the ones from Germany. This battle placed American wineries on the world stage. The Americans were deemed to be able to produce wine as good as the Europeans and other parts of the world. Chateau Ste Michelle’s 1972 Riesling became the most popular wine in the US.
2. Chateau Ste Michelle Works with Other Winemakers
Chateau Ste Michelle isn’t afraid to go into partnership with other winemakers as they believe they will be able to collaborate to produce even better wine. Col Solare is one of their partners. He has a single vineyard where he makes excellent Cabernet Sauvignon. Solare also works in collaboration with Piero Antinori from Tuscany.
Chateau Ste Michelle also works with Ernst Loosen from the Mosel Valley in Germany and they created the Eroica line of Rieslings.
Another winemaker they have partnered with is Michel Gassier from the Rhone Valley. They are exploring the potential of producing Syrah in Washington State.
All this shows that Chateau Ste Michelle is a team player. They understand that collaboration could help them produce even better wines.
3. Chateau Ste Michelle is the Top Producer of Riesling
Chateau Ste Michelle has prestige the world over for all the wines they produce. However, we are talking about Riesling in this article and they are, in fact, the largest producer of this wine in the world. THis really is something as Riesling originated in Germany.
4. The Diversity of the Grapes
Washington State has diverse growing conditions, both in the type of soil used and the climate. This makes it easy for Chateau Ste Michelle to create a variety of wines. As well as the wines we have already mentioned, they produce Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and some red wines using Bordeaux grapes, such as Syrah and Grenache.
5. A Great Company to Start Your Career With
Quite a few employees of Chateau Ste Michelle have gone on to open their own wineries, using the knowledge they gained with Chateau Ste Michelle. Chateau Ste Michelle keeps in touch with them and often works with them. Former companies that can trace their roots back to Chateau Ste. Michelle includes Januuk Long Shadow and Fidelitas.
6. Can You Visit the Chateau?
The simple answer is yes. Chateau Ste Michelle offers tastings and tours of the vineyard throughout the year. You will be impressed by the chateau. It was built in 1976 but was renovated in 2018. It is now a spectacular building.
The Chateau also hosts a concert series every year with such musicians as Bob Dylan and John Legend.
7. How Many Vineyards Does Chateau Ste Michelle Own?
Chateau Ste Michelle owns three vineyards, all situated within the Columbia Valley. They are Canoe Ridge, Cold Creek, and Horse Heaven. Canoe Ridge and Horse Heaven are in Horse Haven Hills, while Cold Creek is just north of the Yakima Valley.
Cold Creek and Canoe Ridge are certified salmon safe and they have low input viticulture ecology meaning that they are helping to keep the rivers clean.
A Sample of Chateau Ste Michelle Wines
Chateau Ste Michell has worked with the likes of David Rosenthol, Ernest Loosen, and Bob Bertheau. Together they have produced excellent wines, especially their Rieslings. The Rieslings and other wines they have produced wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for their collaboration.
Chateau Ste Michelle Entry-level Riesling
The 2017 vintage offers floral scents and strong fruit flavours of yellow and white stone fruit like apricots and peaches. You can imagine that you are in an orchard surrounded by fruit trees sipping a delicious glass of Riesling with a delicious picnic. The wine also has lemon acidity so it is not too sweet. The ABV of this wine is 12.5%. It pairs well with seafood like prawn cocktail and light fish such as trout as well as a light pasta dish. Risotto is also a good pairing.
Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling
This wine has crisp acidity and strong flavours of citrus fruits. You will taste lemon, grapefruit, and lime. It pairs well with a variety of food, especially oysters, but also with other seafood, chicken, pasta, risotto, and vegetarian and vegan dishes.
This wine was created by David Rosenthal and Dr Loosen from the best grapes in Washington State. Two-thirds of the grapes come from the Evergreen Vineyard. This vineyard grows some of the best grapes in the state.
The Riesling has an excellent balance of acidity and sweetness. The scents are floral but the flavours are yellow peach, lychee, citrus and a zest of lime and mint. It is 12% ABV and amazingly, for such a good wine, it retails at less than $20. It is a delightful wine that goes with fish, other seafood, pasta, and even pizza.
Ice White Riesling
This Riesling comes from Heaven Hills vineyard. It is picked late, around about the middle of November. It is pressed straight away and then left to ferment for three weeks. It has strong fruit flavours. What you will notice first is the taste of stone fruits like peach and apricot. Then there may be a light citrus taste. The wine is yellow gold in colour which is attractive in a wine. The 2014 edition of this wine has just 9% ABV which is low in a wine. It serves well for those who want to keep their alcohol consumption low. It pairs well with seafood and chicken.
Chateau Ste MichelleReserve Riesling Ice Wine
This is what we consider an excellent wine and well worth trying. It is a honey colour which almost makes it look like Mead. It is quite sweet, but you will still taste a bit of acidity. You will taste marzipan, honey, and pineapple. The wine just slides down as it has a light body. It pairs well with oysters, other seafood, and gnocchi. You could even drink it with a fruit dessert or a cheeseboard.
Chateau Ste Michelle Rose
This wine is a beautiful pale pink in colour. It is a combination of 98% Syrah and 2% Merlot, both coming from Washington, Columbia Valley. This combination is a little risky, but you are offered aromas and tastes of raspberries and watermelon. There are also notes of citrus zest and wild strawberries. It can be paired with cheeses, chicken and even pork.
Chateau Ste Michelle Canoe Ridge Chardonnay
Riesling is not the only wine produced by Chateau Ste Michelle and their Chardonnay is well worth looking at. It is creamy with hints of brioche, roasted macadamia nuts, and butterscotch. There is also a hint of citrus, apple, and tree flavours. If you are looking for a wine to pair with chicken, pasta, or risotto, this is a good choice. The wine is aged in French oak barrels and this taste of oak goes well with pork even though it is a red meat.
Chateau Ste Michelle 2008 Grand Single Berry Select Riesling
The grapes for this wine are from Horse Heaven and are harvested in late October – early November. It is made from a single grape varietal.
It takes up to six months for this wine to ferment. By this time it is around 7% ABV, but it is left on the lees for up to a year before it is bottled. By this time the ABV is higher.
This wine pairs with heavier food than seafood as for example chicken or pork and creamy pasta dishes.
Eroica Single Berry Select Riesling
This is a dessert wine as it is quite sweet and sticky. When you smell it, you will have an aroma of dried apricots and then you will taste whiskey-infused marmalade. There is a hint of nuts that have been caramelised, sherry, and stone fruits like peaches and apricots. There are also aromas of sweet spice and orange blossom. It has a high level of residual sugar so will go well with chocolate mousse and tiramisu.
Eroica XLC Dry Riesling
The grapes for this wine are grown at the Evergreen Vineyard. It is fermented in an upright oak cask so does not have an overpowering amount of an oak taste. The 2016 vintage was left for around 12 months, while the 2017 vintage was left for two years. It smells floral and has a mineral quality to it as well as citrus notes. When you have purchased it, it is best left to mature a little longer in your cellar so that the flavours are more powerful. Then pair it with seafood like lobster and crab or a risotto. It also goes well with chicken.
Chateau Ste Michelle Limited Release Midsummer’s Wine
This is a blend of a number of wines; Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Semillon, Chenin Blanc, and Muscat Canale. The grapes are yeast fermented for 12 months in an upright oak cask which means that the finished product is not too strong on the oak flavour. Instead, you get a wide variety of flavours including candied grapes, gooseberry, teaberry, green apple, and white grapefruit. The wine is a little sweet, but not so sweet as to be called a dessert wine. Instead, you will be presented with a wine that has a minerality to it. It is recommended that you drink this wine soon after purchasing it. It doesn’t get any better by sitting in your cellar, instead, it loses some of the essential flavours. When drunk immediately, it is crisp and citrusy with apricot flavours and an aroma of flowers. It is best paired with seafood or roasted vegetables.
Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
Let’s now take a quick look at a red wine that Chateau Ste Michelle produces. They don’t just produce white wines and believe in diversity.
The grapes for this wine come from the Cold Creek Vineyard and the vines were planted in the 1970s. It is a warm area and produces some of the best Cabernet Sauvignons in Washington State.
This wine goes well with steak or roast lamb. It is a deep red colour and tastes of blackberries, cigar ash, and Hoisin sauce. The flavour is also reminiscent of mocha and there are tart notes as well. You may even taste roasted herbs and pastry. The general feel of this wine is that it’s rich so red meat is a good accompaniment.
Chateau Ste Michelle 2016 Cold Creek Vineyard Riesling Columbia Valley
This region is very hot so it sounds like it might not be the best place to grow grapes for Riesling. However, a particularly successful Riesling is produced here and has been for fifty years. This Riesling is made from 45-year old vines. The small berries give fruit intensity and rich fruit flavours. It takes around four weeks to harvest the grapes.
The aromas of this wine are rich and you will smell ripe stone fruit. like peaches and apricots/ There is also a hint of spice. You will taste these fruit flavours, but there is still a crisp finish.
This 2016 Riesling wasn’t released until 2018. This gave it a chance to develop the fruit flavours.
It is a special wine and would be ideal to serve at a dinner party. Because it is so rich in fruit flavours it would go well with a pork dish even though it is a red meat. You can also drink it with creamy pasta, pizza and it is a great accompaniment to a cheeseboard.
This wine has 12% ABV which is common in wine. It should be served at between 10C and
Eroica Gold Riesling
This wine is just a little dry and has bold flavours. You will taste spice, grapefruit, peach, and honeysuckle. These flavours will linger on your tastebuds, but you will still get a crisp finish.
In 2013, the winery used extra ripe grapes to get an intense flavour. The winemakers wanted to avoid too much sweetness and made it off-dry. You will smell saffron and orange peel and taste peach and ripe pear,
The 2014 Gold Riesling was sourced from the Horse Heaven Vineyard and tastes of ripe peaches
as well as apricots. It has a rich flavour but ends up with a crisp finish.
This wine goes well with seafood and chicken. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, it will pair well with most dishes. Also, try it with a cheese board after a meal.
The ABV is less than 10% so won’t go to your head too quickly.
Chateau Ste Michelle and Society
As we have said, Chateau Ste Michell hosts concerts and maybe you are wondering where the revenue all goes. Well, you will be pleased to hear that not all of it goes into the pockets of the winemakers. Instead, they give back to the community and there aren’t many winemakers who can say the same.
An example of what they do for the community is to give the net proceeds to support a charitable organization that helps 40 not-for-profit organizations. Chateau Ste Michelle has done this every year.
In addition, they have invested around $3 million dollars in scholarships for students from low-income families who show potential and a desire to attend university.
Finally, Chateau Ste Michellehave financially supported the Viticulture and Enology Programme which is being run at Washington State University.
The Estates of Chateau Ste Michelle
Chateau Ste Michelle has a number of estates which isn’t surprising as they produce so much wine. The growing conditions vary so you will find that some grapes are grown where it is hot while others may prefer cooler conditions. They are committed to following independent winemaking practices and by doing this, you will get exclusive wines from them.
The Tasting Rooms of Chateau Ste Michelle
A great draw of wineries is the tasting rooms. What wine lover doesn’t love to go to a winery to taste the wines for a nominal price. You can do this at all of the Chateau Ste Michelle estates. The tasting rooms are enough of a draw in themselves. They are a work of art and there is, of course, a shop so that you can purchase any of the wines you enjoyed.
You can also take a tour and see how the wine is produced. The staff are knowledgeable so you will learn more about wine production. It should be a thoroughly enjoyable venture into the world of wine.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any great food pairings for Eroica Riesling?
This wine is slightly sweet but also has a crisp and natural acidity. It pairs well with a long list of foods so is versatile. Riesling itself goes with smoked meats, sausages, seafood, and sushi, while Eroica Riesling also pairs with Thai food. This may sound strange, but the heat of the Thai curry is lessened by the crispness of the wine.
Is the Chardonnay produced by Chateau Ste Michelle in the Columbia Valley Different from other Chardonnays?
Yes, Chateau Ste Michelle produces Chardonnay as well as Riesling. In Columbia Valley, there is a mixture of Old World wines that are harvested later in the season and New World wines that are harvested early. This allows them to produce different varieties of wine according to which season is the best. In this way, a buttery Chardonnay is produced with a smoky flavour and some hints of stone fruits. Like the Rieslings they produce, it stands out.
What is the difference between a good Riesling and a great Riesling?
The difference is notable attention to detail. A slight difference in the grapes can have a profound effect on the finished product. The climate and growing soil can also change the taste of the wine. Chateau Ste Michelle has a vision that takes them right through to the final product. This is the way to produce a great Riesling.
There is no doubt that Chateau Ste Michelle produces an excellent Riesling as well as other equally satisfying wines. They have been producing it for nigh on 50 years and we can’t see why they would want to stop. It is a delicious crisp and fruity wine that pairs with a wide selection of foods. Seafood is especially a great choice, but if you don’t like seafood, don’t ignore the fact that the wine also pairs well with chicken, pasta, pizza, risotto, and even Thai food. It is a good wine to be enjoyed at a dinner party but it is so reasonably priced so why don’t you have it for a quiet night when you’re just having a family dinner?