Jed Steele started in 1970 in the Lake County AVA (just northeast of Napa). Steele focuses on vineyard-specific wines from his own estate and other vineyards he has worked with since the 1970s. Jed believes that the Steele wines exemplify varietal correctness and characteristics of the vineyards they come from. Today Jed continues his vision by crushing 22 different varietals and producing 40 different wines from both California and Washington State. Stop by on Saturday when we’ll try five of them.
2015 Shooting Star, Aligote $10
Aligote is the second white grape of Burgundy but now grown in Washington. The wine is crisp and clean, a wine with a nice balance of fruit and acidity. Flinty, mineral elements mix with a light floral hint on the nose, followed with the suggestion of tart/sweet apple on the palette.
2015 Shooting Star, Blue Franc $12
Blau Frankisch is literally “blue grape from France” is better known around here as Lemberger. This Washington grown version is full of berry fruit flavors and great color but with little tannin or harshness.
2016 Writer’s Block, Cabernet Franc $16
Cabernet Franc excels in specific vineyards of Lake County, and Steele has worked with it from Shannon Ridge Vineyards in the High Valley area for almost a decade now. This Franc has aromas of red cherry, raspberry, plum, and licorice. Flavors are of red fruit, raspberry, and plum with smooth acidity, followed by soft tannins. The wine is aged for 15 months in mainly hybrid barrels.
2016 Steele Cabernet Sauvignon Red Hills $25
The Red Hills AVA is a new appellation in Lake County. The iron-rich, red soil of Red Hills is laden with obsidian, a glassy black volcanic rock that glistens in the afternoon sun. Well known Napa Valley grape grower Andy Beckstoffer bought up a piece of the Red Hills AVA, planting it in Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals with which he is very familiar. Steele has been using the fruit since 2002. This wine has a rich, fruit-forward elegance. A spicy fruit and berry core backed up by soft tannins makes it a nice glass of wine for casual sipping among friends.
2014 Steele Zinfandel Catfish Vineyard $19
Catfish Vineyard, located on the Bell Hill Bench of Lake County, was planted in 1901. Steele purchased the vineyard in 2000 and is working to rehabilitate the old head pruned vines. Catfish Vineyard Zinfandel, is actually a field blend of a number of varieties, including small amounts of Carignan, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Cinsault. Having more than one variety assured the old-time vintners that they would have some grapes to harvest regardless of the spring frosts or autumn storms.
Madrona Wine Merchants offers free wine tastings featuring 4-5 selections on a theme every Saturday from 2 until the bottles run out and on Sunday, we offer a mini-tasting of two wines all day from 11-5.