42. Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Artist Series Meritage, Columbia Valley, $55
The term “meritage” is occasionally misappropriated and often mispronounced — the 25-year-old moniker is an American-created blend of “merit” and “heritage” — but Chateau Ste. Michelle puts its best foot forward with this stunning wine in bottles that nearly match the beauty of the juice. Cold Creek Vineyard, a 40-year-old site selected for Ste. Michelle by the late Dr. Walter Clore, contributed a record-high 85% of the blend. In fitting with The Meritage Alliance guidelines, only Bordeaux varieties were used, and the formula was Cabernet Sauvignon (74%), Merlot (18%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Malbec. Opulence begins with the aromas of dark black cherry, blackberry and nutmeg swirling in dark chocolate and toasted almond. And that’s no tease. That profile is matched on a palate that starts with blackberry syrup and remains smooth through the finish of polished tannins and ample acidity. This year’s series features three distinctive labels by San Diego artist Ben Darby, who grew up in Seattle. Club membership has its benefits, and for those in the club, they pay $44 a bottle.
Production: 2,210 cases