You can tell the seasons are changing when I start experimenting with bigger, bolder reds. As the weather gets colder, there’s something so comforting in a large pour of red wine. And I’ve been taking some risks, trying vintners I’ve never tasted from before — some whom I’ve never even heard of. But, when you find a winery you love, you can’t just ignore it. Chateau Ste. Michelle is like a tried and true friend — it never disappoints so I’m comfortable trying even the most “challenging” wines with them. So when I saw they had a Cab I’d never tried before, I figured, well, I have to try it. And if the Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay is any indicator of what those vineyards can provide, my interest and tastebuds are peaked.
About the Wine: Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon is made from 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Syrah grapes. The grapes were harvested from a few different vineyards — 40% were from the Indian Wells vineyards from the warmer climate Wahluke Slope AVA in Washington. It is these plush, warmer weather grapes that define this wine — certainly in taste and texture — and thus why it takes the name Indian Wells.
During harvest, the grapes were destemmed and sorted, removing all green material. The wine was fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged in American and French oak barrels (51% new) for 14 months.
Flavor Profile: I love the shade of purple-red as the Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet pours from bottle to glass. Initial aromas are of plump, dried fruits — currants, plums black cherries — with an undertone of woodsy spices. Secondary aromas are of soft, but dark flowers — deep purple violets, velvety red roses — with an undertone of maritime minerality, as if those flowers are growing on a cliff high above the ocean. (Although, please note that the Wahluke Slope AVA is actually defined by its geographic isolation, as it’s bordered by the Columbia River, Saddle Mountains, and Hanford Reach National Monument.)
The palate is just how you’d expect it: full of those plump dried fruits sensed on the nose with a beautiful, almost smokey-oaked background. Mid-palate is when you start to get a bit of earth, again, speaking of sea-scape terroir. Overall the mouthfeel is full and plush, but the conclusion is quite defined in its structure because it is here where the tannins finally come hand in hand with the acidity. The tastes and textures come to a point for a solid and complete finish.
Food Pairing: Because there is a sandy-earthy minerality to this wine, I think Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the few of this varietal that would actually pair well with seafood. A sturdy seafood, mind you, like salmon. Also, because it is so plush and full of fruit initially, you could easily enjoy an accompaniment of cruciferous vegetables (like brussel sprouts or broccoli) whose bitter air usually dissuades a wine pairing all together.
I could also see enjoying this wine with a fun cheese plate of fun, funky cheeses from a mild feta to a truffled gouda and even a stanky blue cheese.
More Info: In my house, we have a saying, “Chateau Ste Michelle anything,” meaning if they make it we like it. And so far, this is true across the board. If you haven’t read my previous Chateau Ste Michelle reviews, please do so.
I purchased the Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon at Safeway (Sale Price: $7.99).
For more information about Chateau Ste Michelle, their Washington estate, and their wines, please do visit the Chateau Ste Michelle website.
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