The Ste Michelle Vineyards Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2016 is 100% Chardonnay sourced from vineyards in different sections of the Columbia Valley in Washington. Ste Michelle Vineyards is the original name for Chateau Ste Michelle when they released their first vintage 50 years ago. The label is an accurate updating of those very first labels, I actually like it better than the current modern label, it stands out on the wine shelf. 50 years ago Ste Michelle was the first vineyard/winery in the Columbia Valley, today there are hundreds and hundreds of vineyards and wineries and Chateau St Michelle and their family of wines is said to use 1/2 of all the grapes grown in the Columbia Valley. Fun fact: According to the fact sheet for this wine the Columbia Valley is so far north that in the height of the growing season there is 2 hours more sunlight than in California. 52% of this Chardonnay was fermented in oak barrels. the other 48% in stainless steel vats and it under went full malolactic fermentation. It was aged for 6 months in 10% new American and French oak barrels, the other 90% used barrels, and aged “on lees” (dead yeast and bits of grape residue). The lees were stirred on a regular basis which adds a creamy texture, along with structure and often a salty cashew flavor. The alcohol content is 13.5%.
The color is a pale wheat yellow. The nose is lightly tropical, along with peach, pear, lemon, apple, touch of French vanilla, and coconut. This is a tasty, lightly oaked Chardonnay, with rounded fruit flavors and solid acidity. It starts with lemon curd, peach, grapefruit, but not too tart, ripe green apple, and creamy vanilla. The mid-palate adds coconut water, Bosc pear, a hint of pineapple, and light tangerine. The acidity allows the flavors to unfold, but does not bite. The finish is full and lengthy.
The Ste Michelle Vineyards Columbia Valley Chardonnay 2016 is a tasty crowd pleasing wine, it’s fruit-forward but balanced. Everything has its place, the body of the wine matches the acidity which in turn is balanced by the flavors and textures. This is one of those wines where you find yourself reaching for another sip without thinking about, your brain knows you want more before you do. This is a Chard that just tastes great, it has some oak, but it simply adds a delicious flavor without going overboard. This is a style of Chardonnay that I find very appealing.