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Washington State’s Columbia Valley has been recognized as a superb location for growing the Syrah and Chateau Ste. Michelle has proven it can be done superbly and affordably. 2011 was an excellent vintage with cool temperatures early and late during a typically hot, dry summer. The grapes were harvested at full ripeness from vineyards in the Wahluke Slope, an
ideal growing region for Rhone varietals with intense color and flavor. Slow, careful fermentation was followed by 18 months in French and American oak barrels. 3% Viognier was fermented with the Syrah as is traditionally done in the Northern Rhone (this adds brightness and perfume to this hardy big-boned red) and small amounts of Mourvedre (2%) and Grenache (1%) were blended in. Wine Spectator scored it 90 points saying "Fresh and vibrant, this is polished in texture, glowing with blackberry, black olive and licorice flavors that flow smoothly into the long finish. Drink now through 2017." On Sale!
This is one of those really juicy wines bursting with blackberry and cherry fruit. However it has some real balance as the smoky, meaty and licorice notes mesh well with the forward fruit. Tannins are firm while the acidity is vibrant making for wine that is drinking very well right now.