By Kori ~ September 19th, 2011.
Col Solare, located on Red Mountain in Washington State, is a partnership between Marchesi Antinori of Italy and Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington State. Italian for â€œshining hill,â€ Col Solare produces one Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine each year with the goal to reflect the characteristics of both Old World and New World styles. The idea for this project began back in 1992 when Marchese Piero Antinori visited Washington Stateâ€™s Columbia Valley. He was taken by the emerging wine region and decided to partner with Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washingtonâ€™s oldest winery, to produce a Washington Cabernet-based wine with a European influence. Col Solareâ€™s first release was the 1995 vintage.
Several years later, Antinori and Ted Baseler, President and CEO of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, decided to build a winery solely dedicated to this project. In 2005, they purchased 40 acres on Red Mountain to build a winery building and plant an estate vineyard. Construction of the winery was completed in time for the harvest of 2006. The 2006 vintage was the first vintage produced at Col Solareâ€™s state-of-the-art facility, which officially opened in April 2007. In addition, Col Solare planted a 28-acre estate vineyard on the property in 2007. Col Solare produces between 10,000 to 11,000 cases per year of its flagship wine.
â€œTwenty years from now, we would like to be using all estate fruit from Red Mountain.â€ â€“Marcus Notaro, winemaker
Like the partnership, the Col Solare facility itself reflects a mix of Old World and New World. The winery sits high on Red Mountain with an Old World bell tower visible from far away. Inside, though, it boasts a modern cellar and a contemporary, New World dÃ©cor in the tasting room. The fan-shaped estate vineyard emanates out from the winery building like rays of sunshine, which are illustrated in the Col Solare logo.
Now, residents and visitors of the west side of Washington State can get a taste of Col Solare at their new Bottega (Italian for â€œshopâ€) located within Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville. Last Wednesday, I attended a tasting with winemaker Marcus Notaro followed by the Grand Opening event. The Bottega is tastefully done and designed to provide guests with a sneak preview of how the tasting room on Red Mountain looks and feels.
The Bottega officially opened to the public on Thursday, September 15th. It will be open by appointment seven days a week. Each 45-minute appointment will include an overview of the Col Solare story and a tasting of three vintages of their flagship Bordeaux-style blend. The Bottega is a beautiful space in which to sample the excellent wines of Col Solare. If you are in Woodinville, I encourage you to visit the Col Solare Bottega. And if you are able, a trip to the winery on Red Mountain is well worth your time as well.
2007 Col Solare Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. Deep, dark purple. Gorgeous nose with aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry, vanilla, and spice. Full-bodied yet elegant with smooth tannins. Well-balanced with a long finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $75
2008 Col Solare Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Syrah. Deep, dark purple. Gorgeous nose with cocoa, black cherry, and pencil lead aromas. Cocoa, espresso, black cherry, and blackcurrant come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and silky tannins. Well-balanced with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
Where to buy: To be released Fall 2011
2009 Col Solare Red Wine (Columbia Valley, Washington): 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec. Deep, dark purple in color. Aromatic with earth, chalk, black fruit, and floral notes on the nose. Blackcurrant, cocoa, pencil lead, and earth come through on the palate. Big and bold. Full-bodied with crisp acidity and silky tannins. Well-balanced with a long, lingering finish.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Where to buy: To be released Fall 2012
Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wine Activities/Events, Wines Over $25