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Steele Shooting Star Aligote 1999

Aligote from Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
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    Winemaker Notes

    Aligoté is a variety which is little known but widely planted. It is in fact the fourth most planted wine grape variety in the world. Huge plantings dominate Eastern Europe, Ukraine, and Moldavia. In France it is the other white grape in Burgundy. Restricted to either the tops of hills or the colder valley locations. In Burgundy, Aligoté always takes second to Chardonnay. It is because this variety is more cold tolerant and makes good but neutral wine that it was never planted in any commercial quantity in California. It was Washington State where cold winters are a fact of life that Aligoté has found a home. The Newhouse family has farmed the land south of Sunnyside Washington for generations. They were some of the first wine grape growers and were always experimenting. They planted two acres of Aligoté in the 1970's and these grapes were made into varietal wine by one Washington winery for many years. For a time it even outsold the winery's Chardonnay. When the boom for Chardonnay took hold in the late 1980's the sales of Aligoté declined and eventually the grapes were blended into the Chardonnay. Here at Steele we have always had a fascination for good but under appreciated grapes. We use our Shooting Star label to allow us to make wines from these grapes. This gives us a chance to make and sell these eclectic varieties and to keep the faith and make wines, which are appealing and moderately priced. We barrel fermented the juice but used older oak barrels rather than the 30% new oak that we typically use for Chardonnay. The wine is crisp and clean, a wonderful food wine and one which should be very versatile.

    Critical Acclaim

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    Steele, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
    1999 Shooting Star Aligote
    Jed Steele has worked making wine in California since the late 1960s. In 1991, he founded his own small winery in Lake County. Steele Wines specializes in Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Pinot Blanc and Syrah.

    Yakima Valley

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    Often considered to be the heart of Washington wine country, the Yakima Valley is a sub-AVA of the vast Columbia Valley. The first AVA established in Washington, it is home to some of the state’s most established wineries, and contains three smaller sub-regions: Rattlesnake Hills, Red Mountain, and Snipes Mountain. The climate here is cooler than the rest of the Columbia Valley, making the Yakima Valley ideal for growing white varieties.

    Chardonnay is the most planted grape here, followed closely by Riesling—both made in a wide range of styles depending on the warmth of the vineyard site. Because of the cooler climate, Merlot outnumbers darker-fruited, more tannic Cabernet Sauvignon here—an anomaly for Washington viticulture—and takes on characteristics of sweet red fruit with a supple texture, and sometimes notes of chocolate and mint. Yakima Valley Syrah is earthy and savory, complemented by a wide range of berry flavors from red to black.

    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.

    WWH33S1602_1999 Item# 13803