[WINE REVIEW] 2008 Col Solare Cabernet Sauvignon Blend

[review] As much as we love California, it is refreshing to get out of the terroir we’ve come to know and love and expand our palates a bit. Washington has been ‘up and coming’ in the world wine for so long now that I think it has officially peaked in the Red Mountain region (no pun intended…).

Col Solare, which means “shining hill” in Italian, is the exciting joint venture between two influential wine producers who are recognized leaders in their respective regions: Washington State’s Chateau Ste. Michelle and the legendary Marchesi Antinori of Tuscany.

From its inaugural 1995 vintage, Col Solare’s mission has been to unite these two unique viticultural and winemaking cultures to produce a world-class Cabernet Sauvignon-based red wine from the very best Washington fruit.

With opening of a new winery and planting of the estate vineyard on Red Mountain in 2007, that vision has evolved to focus on showcasing the Cabernet Sauvignon of this unique AVA and, ultimately, the specific fruit of the Col Solare estate vineyard.

Early season vines at Col Solare Winery in Washington
Early season vines at Col Solare Winery in Washington

Piero Antinori first visited Washington State in 1992, became intrigued with the viticulture area and style of wines, feeling they had great potential to produce a world class Cabernet Sauvignon.  He looked for a partner and joined with Chateau Ste Michelle to produce a Cabernet based wine that has great potential to age, is rich and powerful without being heavy or over the top, and has flavors of Washington State

We sat down on a early summer evening for a stunning tasting with the entire team. A little insight into their philosophy at the vineyard…“For us, the relationship between winemaker and vineyard manager is key to producing a great wine.  Every vintage has it’s own complexity, for sure it is important to remember what you did in the past, but you have to look at what mother nature is giving you this vintage and react accordingly.  Timing of viticultural practices and attention to detail are important to achieve the optimum level of canopy, sun exposure and crop load to perfectly ripen the grapes.”

The unique terroir of the Red Mountain creates an exceptional grape for Cabernet Sauvignon
The unique terroir of the Red Mountain creates an exceptional grape for Cabernet Sauvignon

In making Col Solare, there is a style they are producing that is ageable, bold and yet not heavy, a wine that runs deep with the blood of the Red Mountain in every swirl. Red Mountain is a great location for growing Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Col Solare estate vineyard is in an exceptional location—with a smaller crop load per vine and a unique planting method they are able to create greater uniformity and eventually better wine.

The key to longevity is balance between fruit and structure.  Wines that are balanced when you bottle them have both the best potential to age and can also be enjoyed when they are young.  Washington Cabernets seem to really start to come out of their shell after year 5 or 6…this is no exception.

The 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Blend is everything you want it to be and then some. A hot spell in late August led into a cool fall, providing good conditions to complete ripening. Rich and full of flavor, this 2008 vintage of Col Solare offers aromatics of cassis, black fruit, and tobacco, and an elegant, silky, lasting finish. Finishes broad but clenched, with big, tongue-dusting tannins that call for a good five to seven years of cellaring…it has the structure to continue evolving gracefully for another decade or more.

This is one of those classic age-worthy bottles with the right amount of complexity and interest—it fits the occasion, whatever that may be and completely encompasses the personality that is the terroir.