In a nutshell: A soft, fruity and jammy, easy-drinking Syrah from Washington state in the north-west USA.
The lowdown: The fruit for this wine comes from vineyards in eastern Washington state where the long growing season suits the Syrah grape. After fermentation it's aged for around 15 months in a mix of new and used, French and American oak barrels. On the nose there's some spicy white pepper aromas while on the palate it's fruit-forward in style with rich blackcurrant and black cherry flavours. The smooth and gentle tannins give it good structure before it reaches a lingering finish with coffee and brambly notes coming through.
When to drink: Welcoming and easy to like it'll make a good partner to things like beef, grilled salmon and strongly flavoured cheeses.
Chateau Ste Michelle is the oldest and biggest wine estate in the north western US state of Washington. Its origins can be traced back to the early years after the repeal of Prohibtion when vineyards where planted on land owned by Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson. However it's during the last 50 years that they've become a major player in the US wine industry.
In 1976 the then Ste Michelle Estates built a French style Chateau in Woodinville, just outside Seattle and the name of the company was changed to Chateau Ste Michelle. Their vineyards are situated towards the south east of the state, principally at Cold Creek Vineyard, planted in 1972, Horse Heaven Vineyard, where the varieties grown are Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc and Canie Ridge Estate Vineyard which is nearly 560 acres in size.
The company's ultimate parent is the conglomerate Altria, previously known as Philip Morris, who have extensive interests in the Washington and California wine industry. Head winemaker in Bob Bertheau who, after an extensive career in the industry, has been at Chateau Ste Michelle since 2003.