Keith Kenison wears a few hats for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates and oversees some production at two of the Pacific Northwest’s largest wineries as head winemaker for 14 Hands – the state’s second-largest brand – and the white winemaker at Columbia Crest. He takes special pride in this new creation, an 81-case blend of Merlot (39%), Cabernet Franc (33%) and Syrah he cherry-picked from barrels off rising star Four Feathers near Ste. Michelle’s Cold Creek Vineyard, the Wahluke Slope and estate plantings in the Horse Heaven Hills. His use of French oak barrels (55% new) for 20 months leads to aromas of black currant and cherry with mocha, chai spices, sweet herbs and savory black olive. On the palate, it’s suave with a theme of black currant and dark chocolate. Fine-grained tannins and juicy Rainier cherry acidity combine for beautiful balance, leading to a finish of espresso beans. Suggested fare includes rack of lamb, marinated mushrooms, Caprese salad and herb-crusted bison steak. It constitutes perhaps the tiniest lot of commercial wine produced in Washington by Ste. Michelle, and it’s too small for the 14 Hands wine club, so sales of the wine have been limited to the Prosser tasting room.
Production: 81 cases