Chateau Ste. Michelle 2012 Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley, $18
For the second straight year, Bob Bertheau’s red wine team merited our top rating for this Cabernet Sauvignon that’s named for a style rather than Indian Wells Vineyard on the Wahluke Slope. Their renowned Cold Creek (26%) and Canoe Ridge Estate (7%) vineyards played roles, as did Indian Wells, and the barrel program featured 51% new French and American oak. All those components — and fleshy Syrah (10%) — add up to aromas of toast with blackberry jam, brown sugar, Marionberry, black olive and black pepper. Rich flavors hint at warmed blackberry cobbler and black cherries, while the structure comes with a juicy midpalate and silky tannins — all backed by a finish of bittersweet chocolate. Fortunately, the illustrious and giving 2012 harvest allowed Ste. Michelle to increase production by more than 60 percent while holding the price just beyond “Best Buy” level. Suggested pairings include duck, lamb, veal, stuffed peppers and dark chocolate.
Production: 167,000 cases