Appellation: Columbia Valley
Juan Muñoz Oca, Vice-President of winemaking for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, turned a unique approach to red-wine fermentation into one of the country's fastest-growing brands. The results from this blend of fruit from Beverly Vineyard near the Wahluke Slope and Mercer family plantings in the Horse Heaven Hills are stunning. After half of the lot spent nine months on the grape skins rather than the normal one month on the skins, the theme is redolent of cassis, black cherry and dark plum, and the distinctive tannin structure is assertive yet beveled. It ranked as the No. 1 wine within Wine Press Northwests recent judging of Cabernet Sauvignon. One winemaker on the judging panel who marveled at the wine noted, "There's not a single winemaker's mistake here." In terms of price, it was one of the tastings least expensive. It also will be among the easiest to find because it was the largest production wine of the tasting. And the striking label by Brooklyn street artist Zimer makes it a standout on the store shelf, too.
Rating: Outstanding! by Wine Press Northwest (14.5% alc.)
Production: 130,000 cases
Food pairings: Suggested pairings include grilled meats such as lamb, beef and pork as well as seared vegetables.
There is no public tasting room for these INTRINSIC wines, but they are widely available at grocers, supermarkets, wine merchants and restaurants.