Col Solare is a winemaking partnership between Tuscany's Marchesi Antinori and Washington state's Chateau Ste. Michelle that began in the vineyards of the Columbia Valley with Piero Antinori's on-going attraction to unique viticultural regions. In 1990, Piero made his first trip to the Columbia Valley. Impressed by the quality and diversity of Washington wines, Antinori began discussing a partnership with Chateau Ste. Michelle that would challenge them both to step out of their own proven perspective to achieve something new. The idea took hold, and Col Solare was born with the 1995 vintage. Grapes were gently crushed and pumped over twice daily during a ten-day fermentation.
At dryness, a portion of the wine went through an extended maceration of about two weeks to increase extract. We moved the wine with gravity into new and one-year-old French oak barrels; each barrel was racked periodically throughout 22 months of barrel aging. Finally at blending, many individual lots of wine were tasted before winemakers Ron Bunnell and Renzo Cotarella settled on a wine with less Cabernet and more Merlot than previous vintages of Col Solare. The 1999 Merlot had tremendous structure and depth. Syrah added flesh to the vintage's full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. A bit of Malbec enhanced the wine's elegance and added suppleness. Sensational chocolate and caramel aromas join with an earthy note and a hint of tobacco to introduce a wine with generous black currant and black cherry set off by a trace of allspice. Silky with both abundant, soft tannins and plenty of muscle, this is a wine of significant dimension.