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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.

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    Steele, Yakima Valley, Columbia Valley, Washington
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    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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    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.

    The cooler parts of the valley are home to almost half of the Chardonnay and Riesling produced in the state! Both are made in a wide range of styles depending on the conditions of the vineyard site.

    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.

    WWH33S1602_1999 Item# 13803