A Wine for Tonight: 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay

By Kori ~ December 17th, 2009.

2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle ChardonnayWould you like a quick suggestion for a good wine to drink tonight (or this weekend) that won’t break your budget and is widely available? Many of our readers have said this is something they would like, so here is this week’s selection, the 2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay from the Columbia Valley in Washington State.

Our selection criteria include:

  • A very good Quality rating of >=3.5 stars (out of 5)
  • A price tag of <=$15
  • Must be widely available

As regular Wine Peeps readers know, we are not fans of the over-the-top, buttery, tastes-like-a-tree Chardonnays that are so popular among some wine lovers. But when we find a soft, well-balanced Chardonnay like this one for $9, we want to share it with you.

For years, I thought that the wine industry in Washington only started in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but after reading about Washington State’s winemaking history in The Wine Project, I learned that the first known planting of grapevines in what is today Washington State was at Fort Vancouver in 1825. However, as recently as 1973 there were effectively only two active wineries left in the state, American Wine Growers (now Chateau Ste. Michelle) and Associated Vintners (now Columbia Winery). And if Associated Wine Growers visionary Wally Opdycke hadn’t been able to attract venture capital from U.S. Tobacco, we certainly would not have the wine industry we have in Washington State today.

Today, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates is Washington State wine’s biggest player, and Chateau Ste. Michelle is its flagship winery. In 1976, Ste. Michelle built a French-style chateau in Woodinville, Washington, just northeast of Seattle. While all of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, head winemaker Bob Bertheau makes all of their white wines, including this Chardonnay, in Woodinville.

“My goal with the Columbia Valley Chardonnay is to make it a pleasurable, food-friendly Chardonnay. This is a fresh, soft style of Chardonnay with bright sweet citrus fruit character and subtle spice and oak nuances. We blend Chardonnay grapes from vineyards all over Washington’s Columbia Valley to make this a complex, interesting wine. The sur lie aging gives it an appealing softness.” –Bob Bertheau, Head Winemaker

2008 Chateau Ste. Michelle Chardonnay (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, straw yellow in color. Apple and vanilla aromas come through on the nose; apple, pineapple, and a hint of oak on the palate. Medium-bodied with good acidity. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle) $9; Widely available elsewhere, $9 to $14

Filed under: A Wine for Tonight, Chardonnay, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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