Col Solare 2002
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.
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-luxury Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine from their winery and estate vineyard on Washington's Red Mountain.
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.
One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, the best of these are densely hued, fragrant, full of fruit and boast a structure that begs for cellar time. Somm Secret—Blends from Bordeaux are generally earthier compared to those from the New World, which tend to be fruit-dominant.