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Steele Shooting Star Aligote 1999
As the first recognized wine-growing region in the Pacific Northwest, Yakima Valley is centrally located within Washington’s vast Columbia Valley. The region also includes Washington’s oldest Cabernet Sauvignon vines, Otis Vineyard, planted in 1957, and Harrison Hill Vineyard, planted in 1963. Yakima Valley contains three smaller sub-regions: Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, and Snipes Mountain and is ideal for both red and white wine production. In fact, Yakima Valley is Washington’s most diverse region, boasting more than 40 different grape varieties over about one hundred miles.
But its warmer locations yield a large proportion of Washington’s best Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. The finest Yakima Valley reds are jam-packed full of red cherry, currant, raspberry or blackberry fruit, as well as cocoa, herb, spice and savory notes, and exhibit a supple texture, great body, focus and length.
Perfect ripeness balanced with a characteristic acidity make Aligoté a unique white grape in Burgundy. But since Chardonnay reigns supreme across the appellation, Aligoté almost always ends up unfairly lost in its shadow—though not always! In Côte Chalonnaise, in a quaint village named Bouzeron, just south of the Côte de Beaune, Aligoté has its very own appellation where yields are limited in order to enhance the grape’s flavors and aromas. Some of the world’s very best come from there. And curiously, the famous producer, Domaine Ponsot, bottles a 100% Aligoté from its Premier Cru in Morey-Ste-Denis, Les Monts Luisants, made from Aligoté vines planted in 1911. Vignerons in the New World experiment with the grape but it is really most popular outside of Burgundy in the Eastern European countries of Romania, Burlgaria, Ukraine, and Moldova. What makes Aligoté unique is its intense citrus fruit flavors balanced by a floral character of honeysuckle blossom and a supple texture.