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Andrew Shults

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WTN: Shooting Star Aligoté 2003

by Andrew Shults » Thu Jul 20, 2006 2:19 am

I'll get to the backlog of notes I promised in my first post, but I just had to share this one right now. I opened one of the more surprising wines I've had in a while.

Jed Steele's Shooting Star 2003 Washington State Aligoté, US$10.99, 13.5% alc. -- I picked this up on a whim as the 6th bottle I needed to get a 10% discount. Upon tasting, my first thought was "new oak?!? Huh?!?" Granted, this is my first Aligoté, but I had read that Aligoté and oak don't go together. Since I hadn't researched the wine beforehand, I checked out the winery website and found out I was wrong, no new oak. It's fermented in older oak barrels.

I wasn't entirely surprised when I was proven wrong. It wasn't exactly the toasty, buttery vanilla of new oak, but I couldn't place it at first. I went back to my trusty Oz Clarke encyclopedia and found that, at its best, Aligoté can taste like fresh buttermilk. I went back to the wine, inhaled--yep, that was it--not butter, but buttermilk. Aligoté is supposed to taste that way? Really?

So there it is, a full-bodied wine with notes of very ripe apples and buttermilk--a taste to satisfy an oak-o-phile without the heavy-handed overmanipulation most oenophiles would object to.

A toast to whim and bottled surprises.
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Jenise

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Re: WTN: Shooting Star Aligoté 2003

by Jenise » Thu Jul 20, 2006 10:58 am

Andrew, saw that very wine a couple days ago while shopping for viognier. Had I needed one more bottle to make six, and had the store not had that neat little Saumer chenin I was crazy about last time I bought it, that wine would have come home with me for the very reasons it went home with you.

Thanks for taking the bullet. Sounds like an interesting, but not a compelling, wine experience. Wonder why someone's growing it here?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Andrew Shults

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Re: WTN: Shooting Star Aligoté 2003

by Andrew Shults » Thu Jul 20, 2006 4:48 pm

Jenise wrote:Wonder why someone's growing it here?


Well, according to Steele's website, the short answer is that it was an early experiment that was never pulled:

It has never been planted in any commercial quanity in California, but in Washington State, where cold winters are a fact of life, Aligoté has found a happy home.

The Newhouse family has farmed the land south of Sunnyside Washington for generations. They were some of the first wine grape growers and were always experimenting with growing different varieties, including two acres of Aligoté, planted in the 1970's. These grapes were made into varietal wine by one Washington winerey for many years, for a time even outselling its Chardonnay. When the boom for Chardonnay took hold in the late 1980's, the sales of Aligoté declined and eventually the grapes were blended into the Chardonnay.
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Dave Erickson

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Re: WTN: Shooting Star Aligoté 2003

by Dave Erickson » Thu Jul 20, 2006 6:27 pm

Jed Steele is never getting another dime from me. :twisted:
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Re: WTN: Shooting Star Aligoté 2003

by Andrew Shults » Thu Jul 20, 2006 11:51 pm

Dave Erickson wrote:Jed Steele is never getting another dime from me. :twisted:


I just wanted to clarify some possible confusion in my clip from the Steele website. The Newhouse Aligoté was blended into other Chardonnays (not Steele's to the best of my knowledge). My understanding is that Steele found a grower producing Aligoté grapes he liked, and he wanted to make a wine from this oddball grape. The full description is available from Steele's website: http://www.steelewines.com/wines/ssw_sal.html

Dave, I hope possible misinterpretation of my quote wasn't the source of your negative opinion against Steele. Do you have something else against his wines?
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Dave Erickson

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Re: WTN: Shooting Star Aligoté 2003

by Dave Erickson » Fri Jul 21, 2006 6:57 pm

Andrew Shults wrote:Dave, I hope possible misinterpretation of my quote wasn't the source of your negative opinion against Steele. Do you have something else against his wines?


Don't trouble yourself. It's personal. We had a little set-to once upon a time, which I'm sure he doesn't remember at all, but I do.

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