Col Solare
Part 13, Washington State: visiting one of North America's leading wine growing regions

 

Website:  www.colsolare.com

This is a grand project owned by Ch‚teau Ste Michelle in partnership with Piero Antinori of Italy. We visited with winemaker Darel Allwine (pictured above).

 

Andre Tschelistcheff was a consultant with Ste Michelle and in 1992 convinced Piero Antinori to travel to Washington State to have a look around. Antinori liked what he saw, and a collaboration was born in 1995.

The idea was to produce a blend based on Bordeaux varieties, with a bit of Syrah in the mix. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant theme, with 60-80%, but the proportion varies each vintage.

 

In 2000 they looked at Red Mountain, and began sourcing fruit here in 2002 from the Klipson Vineyard. John Williams, one of the pioneers of Red Mountain, owned 300 hectares here without water rights. Ste Michelle looked at his parcels and chose a 40 acre block, south facing. They brought down some water rights from another property, and shared these with the Williams family, who were then able to plant more of their property.

 

Water is key here: with water rights, land is worth $50 000 per acre. They built the estate winery in 2006, and planted the vineyard in 2007. Itís a high density planting with 7 ft x 3 ft, and the unilateral trellis yields 3-3.5 tons/acre. This high density planting protects the fruit zone on the west side, allowing them to open up the canopies on both sides.

 

Harvest is typically at 26/27 Brix with pH of 3.7-3.8 and acid of 5-5.8 g/l. One wine is made each year, and thereís a second label called Shining Hill. Production in 2010 was 1000 cases, then 2500 in 2011, 5000 in 2012 and 7100 in 2013. The proportion of estate fruit has grown from 13% in 2009 (first pick) to 87% in 2011, then back down to 48% in 2013.

 

Daryl says that the Syrah and Malbec are both phenomenal here, as well as the Cabernet Sauvignon that forms the backbone of the blend. In 2011 they started making a component collection series of wines with individual wines, which they sold to their cellar door club.

 

Darelís story is an interesting one. He spent 20 years in the airforce and then retired in 1995. In 1996 he started working as a cellar rat at Columbia Crest. ĎI was so enamoured by all the variables that go into a bottle of wine.í Now heís winemaker at Col Solare.

THE WINES

Col Solare 2011 Washington State
14.5% alcohol. Fresh, vivid, sweet black fruits nose with spicy framing. Rich and quite tannic on the palate with sweet black fruits. Quite lush and yet structured with a  grippy finish. Stylish and polished but with edges. 93/100 (06/15)

Col Solare 2012 Washington State
Sweet, slightly chocolatey nose. Rich and dense with bold sweet black fruits on the palate. Nice plushness and structure. Ripe and modern, and the oak hasnít integrated properly yet. 91/100 (06/15)

Col Solare 2012 Red Mountain, Washington State
Coffee and chocolate on the nose with bright black fruits. Has some freshness and a bit of spicy detail, alongside the sweet, pure fruit. Lush and modern but not too ripe. 91/100 (12/16)

Col Solare 2013 Washington State
(Cask sample.) Chocolatey, spicy edge to the focused black cherry and blackberry fruit. Nice lushness with good definition. Very stylish and has good focus to the black fruits. 91-93/100 (06/15)

WASHINGTON STATE WINES
Introduction
Betz 
Columbia Winery
De Lille
WT Vintners
Savage Grace
Chateau Ste Michelle
Andrew Will
Airfield Estates
Hedges
Milbrandt Vineyards
Ciel du Cheval Vineyard
Col Solare
Powers/Badger Mountain
J Bookwalter
Pacific Rim
Gordon Estate
Long Shadows
Seven Hills
Charles Smith
Geology with Kevin Pogue
Leonetti
Woodward Canyon
Gramercy Cellars
L'Ecole No 41
Columbia Crest
Maryhill
Memaloose/Idiot's Grace
COR Cellars
Syncline

Wines tasted as indicated
Find these wines with
wine-searcher.com

 

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