Riesling from Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle, 2011 Vintage



By Kori ~ August 8th, 2012.

Riesling has become known as Washington State’s signature white variety. Washington is the largest Riesling producing state in the United States. And, Washington State’s own Chateau Ste. Michelle is the largest Riesling producer in the world. Chateau Ste. Michelle is Washington State’s founding winery with its roots dating back to the repeal of Prohibition. In 1976, Ste. Michelle built a French-style chateau in Woodinville, just northeast of Seattle. While all of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s vineyards are located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, all of their white wines are made in Woodinville.

Riesling is one of the most versatile grape varieties. It can be made in many different styles from bone dry to very sweet, reflect the regional character of where it is grown, and is extremely food-friendly. And, it is probably the most age worthy of all white wine varieties.

We recently had the opportunity to taste five Chateau Ste. Michelle Rieslings from the 2011 vintage in a blind samples tasting, the Eroica Riesling, Dry Riesling, Harvest Select Sweet Riesling, Cold Creek Riesling, and Columbia Valley Riesling. These five wines represent different styles and price points, from the number one selling American Riesling, the Columbia Valley Riesling, to the ultra-premium Eroica Riesling.

Eroica is a joint venture between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen of Germany. Winemakers Bob Bertheau and Ernst Loosen work together every step of the way to produce a world-class Riesling from Washington State grapes. The partnership launched in 1999, and the 2011 vintage is Eroica’s 13th vintage. Eroica is named for Beethoven’s Third Symphony. We have found Eroica to be consistently excellent from vintage to vintage. It has raised the bar for the entire Riesling category in Washington.  If you have not had the pleasure to try Eroica, I encourage you to seek it out.

However, you cannot go wrong with any of these five Rieslings. All of them are good and deliver serious bang for your buck as well.

2011 Eroica Riesling [Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen] (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, straw yellow in color. Very aromatic with white peach, floral notes, and a touch of lime on the nose. More white peach and floral notes as well as a hint of minerality come through on the palate. Off-dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with good complexity and a long, refreshing finish. Residual Sugar: 2.28%
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $20; Available elsewhere, $15 to $20

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): Very pale yellow. Aromatic with floral notes, pear, and white peach on both the nose and palate. Dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, clean finish. Residual Sugar: 0.72%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $9; Available elsewhere, $6 to $12

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Harvest Select Sweet Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale to medium yellow. Nice nose with peach and orange aromas. Good mouthfeel with more peach and orange on the palate. Medium sweet and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish. Residual Sugar: 5.22%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $9; Available elsewhere, $7 to $12

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Riesling (Cold Creek Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale, greenish straw yellow. Nice nose with peach, apricot, and floral aromas. Orange zest, peach, and floral notes come through on the palate. Slightly off-dry and light to medium-bodied with lively acidity and a medium to long finish. Residual Sugar: 2.1%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15; Available elsewhere, $14 to $18

2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale straw yellow in color. Moderately aromatic with lime, peach, and a touch of petrol and minerality on both the nose and palate. Off-dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a medium to long finish. Residual Sugar: 2.23%
Quality: 3 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $9; Available elsewhere, $5 to $13


Filed under: American Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Riesling, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Under $10, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. Wine fridge | August 9th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Eroica is one of my favorite wines!

  2. Ronda Bowen | August 18th, 2012 at 12:58 am

    Chateau Ste. Michelle has some truly wonderful wines. In addition to their Riesling, I strongly recommend their Chardonnays and Merlots – both are not wines I’m generally fond of, but they do a stand out job with each of these varietals!

  3. Kori | August 20th, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Ronda,
    You are absolutely right. CSM makes a number of very good wines in addition to their Rieslings. Cheers!

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