Chateau Ste. Michelle enjoyed so much success with the fruit-forward style of wines — red and white — from its Indian Wells Vineyard and surrounding vineyards on the Wahluke Slope, that the company created a separate tier and priced them in the teens. That vineyard near the Columbia River between the towns of Desert Aire and Mattawa plays a sizable role in this Merlot, and so does Syrah (14%). There’s a substantial amount of new oak (51%) involved, too, which imparts the tones of toast, milk chocolate, Wheat Chex and cardamom. Currant, pomegranate and taut tannins provide the context for this solid example of Washington Merlot.
Production: 50,000 cases