Col Solare is a winemaking partnership between Tuscany's Marchesi Antinori and Washington state's Chateau Ste. Michelle that began in the vineyards of the Columbia Valley with Piero Antinori's on-going attraction to unique viticultural regions. In 1990, Piero made his first trip to the Columbia Valley. Impressed by the quality and diversity of Washington wines, Antinori began discussing a partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle that would challenge them both to step out of their own proven perspective to achieve something new. The idea took hold, and Col Solare was born with the 1995 vintage.
Grapes were gently crushed and pumped over twice daily during a ten-day fermentation. At dryness, a portion of the wine went through an extended maceration of about two weeks to increase extract. We moved the wine with gravity into new and one-year-old French oak barrels; each barrel was racked periodically throughout 22 months of barrel aging. Sensational chocolate and caramel aromas join with an earthy note and a hint of tobacco to introduce a wine with generous black currant and black cherry set off by a trace of allspice. Silky with both abundant, soft tannins and plenty of muscle, this is a wine of significant dimension.
"...The terrific 2002 Col Solare is unquestionably the finest to date. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 20% Syrah, it explodes from the glass with aromas of black fruits, tar, and licorice..." -Wine Advocate
Col Solare Winery
Col Solare is the partnership between two influential wine producers who are recognized leaders in their respective regions: Tuscany's Marchesi Antinori and Washington state's Chateau Ste. Michelle. Col Solare unites these who unique viticultural and winemaking cultures to produce and ultra-luxurty Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine from their winery and estate vineyard on Washington's Red Mountain.
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Columbia Valley is the largest of Washington State's wine growing regions, with almost 11 million acres. It encompasses a number of smaller regions, including Yakima Valley, Walla Walla Valley, Red Mountain and more. The vast area consists of a range of climates, allowing viticulturists to plant a diverse selection of grape varieties. Most wineries plant rows sparsely, which helps the vines survive the harsh winters.
Now the number two producer in the United States, Washington State has also grown in quality.
So how does a state known for rain and coffee produce high quality wines? They plant their grapes on the east side of the Cascade mountains, away from that ever-present rain cloud that sits along the coast. Perhaps wine grapes do well since the sandy loam soils east of the Cascade range give way to an almost desert-like land, saved from drought only by the helpful rivers that run through the area – and the good irrigation systems.
Thinking that the state would do best with typical northern growing grapes like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer, turns out the apple state is well-suited for reds, namely Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and, more recently, Syrah. Of course, whites have not been forgotten - Washington State Rieslings range from bone-dry to sweet, are well-structured and high quality, and Chardonnay dominates most of the other white plantings, making a range of wines. But the reds of the region, Merlot in particular, have made Washington State a quality force to be reckoned with.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.