One great part about living in Seattle means Woodinville is a short drive away. Last weekend I visited two historic Washington wineries, Chateau St. Michelle and Cougar Crest. Each have been a big part of putting Washington wine on the map.
Chateau St. Michelle is one of the most famous producers of Riesling in the world. In fact, they mention that they produce more Riesling than any other winery. One key to gaining their success was previous winemaker, Mike Januik (currently owns his own prestigious winery, Januik Winery), as the wines made by him achieved unprecedented success for a Washington winery. Januik has been known for making great reds, too, as he has been coined the 'Washington King of Merlot,' for the great Merlots that he has created over the years. Januik was replaced with Bob Bertheau, who has been an incredibly successful successor, as St. Michelle has scored a constant stream of 90 plus point wines.
Cougar Crest came into the wine industry considerably later than Chateau St. Michelle, planting their first vines in 1997. Cougar Crest is much smaller operation than St. Michelle but most of their wines score in the 90s. Cougar Crest relies on fruit from their estate in Walla Walla and have achieved 93 point scores in Wine Spectator for their Cabernet and Cabernet Franc. As a husband and wife wine making team, Deborah and David Hansen produce extremely high quality red wines (and probably the best Viognier in the state) for a reasonable price.
Here are some of the great wines that I sampled from Chateau St. Michelle and Cougar Crest:
2008 Domaine St. Michelle Luxe- This is their high end sparkling wine. Brioche and golden delicious apple on the nose with light oak. Palate has rich and slightly sweet flavors with ripe pear and red apple with delicate bubbles. Very solid, 100% Chardonnay. Drinking well now but this thing could also cellar for a few years.-90
2012 Chateau St. Michelle Austral- Rhone style white blend with Rousanne, Marsanne and Viognier. Nice lime and grapefruit on the nose. Good viscosity and palate is slightly simplistic but has nice smoothness. Lemon, lime and honeydew melon. Drink now.-88
2009 Chateau St. Michelle Artist Series Meritage- Blend of Cold Creek and Canoe Ridge vineyard fruits. Has all 5 Bordeaux varietals. Ripe blackberry, black cherry, cassis and cinnamon with coffee. Tight, tannic and needs a lot of time, likely 3 more years of cellaring. -92
2010 Chateau St. Michelle Ethos Syrah- Rich, dark color with smoked meats, light oak and vanilla on the nose. flavors of boysenberry, black tea and black cherry. Some tannins, suggesting that this can cellar another year or two. -92
2009 Chateau St. Michelle Whidbey's Port- 90% Cabernet with some Portugese indigenous varietals. Nice viscosity and acidity with blackberry, cherry cough syrup and coffee. -88
2012 Cougar Crest Viognier- Orange blossom and grapefruit on the nose. Palate has great acidity and minerality with lemon and green melon flavors with light cream. Refreshing and a great value. Drink now. -91
2011 Cougar Crest Rose- Pale color with a chalky smell. Guava and strawberry on the palate. Somewhat astringent. Drink now. -85
2010 Cougar Crest Dedication Seven- 50% Merlot with 29% Syrah, 15% Cabernet and 6% Petit Verdot. Lighter color with oak and red fruits on the nose. Palate has some citrus with raspberry, red cherry and cranberry. Drink now.-89
2008 Cougar Crest Anniversary Cuvee- Spice cake with oak on the nose. Palate has red cherry, raspberry and blackberry with great balance and minerality. Very Bordelaise. Drink now -92
2007 Cougar Crest Golden's Legacy Syrah- Heavy smoke on the nose with oak. Palate has smoked meats and blackberry with great viscosity. Drink now. -91