Chateau Ste. Michelle Horse Heaven Late Harvest Chenin (Half-Bottle) 2006
Chateau Ste. Michelle is one of the few premium wineries in the world with two state-of-the-art wineries, one devoted to whites and another to reds. Their winemaking philosophy is to highlight the style, quality and expression of our Washington state vineyards. We strive to respect the varietal characters and individuality of each location, yet still craft each wine to give you a pleasurable, food friendly experience.
This dedicated approach to winemaking allows the winemaking team led by Katie Nelson to build winemaking programs to the unique specifications of red and white wines. “After nearly 30 years of experience, I’m inspired to be bold and take chances. I have leaned into my knowledge and enjoy challenging convention. I want to create exciting wines for people to enjoy.” says Katie about her winemaking philosophy.
While all of Chateau Ste. Michelle's vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains where the climate is dry and sunny, Chateau Ste. Michelle’s award-winning white wines are made in Woodinville, 15 miles northeast of Seattle, WA. The winery's expansive, picturesque 105-acre estate hosts more than 300,000 visitors annually for tours, tastings, dinners and outdoor summer concerts.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
Unquestionably one of the most diverse grape varieties, Chenin Blanc can do it all. It shines in every style from bone dry to unctuously sweet, oaked or unoaked, still or sparkling and even as the base for fortified wines and spirits. Perhaps Chenin Blanc’s greatest asset is its ever-present acidity, maintained even under warm growing conditions. Somm Secret—Landing in South Africa in the mid 1800s, today the country has double the acreage of Chenin Blanc planted compared to France. There is also a new wave of dedicated producers committed to restoring old Chenin vines.