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Domaine Ste. Michelle has long dominated the sparkling wine market in Washington since the winery’s founding in 1978. Recently, the winery relaunched itself as simply ‘Michelle’.

A quick look at the new design and packaging makes the intent clear: it’s aimed directly at women in general and more specifically at Millennial women – those aged 21 to 34. Why all the fuss about women? The press release on the relaunching contained the following telling quote:

“With the majority of our sales being made by women, we enhanced shelf appeal with feminine flair,” said Brenda Castañeda, Marketing Manager. “The new packaging features an elegant bottle shape and an attractive white label accented with soft blue (Brut, Extra Dry) and blush (Brut Rosé) hues. The wine meets the demand from women seeking a chic and stylish sparkling wine."

Indeed, wineries are going after this demographic hard with everything from Hello Kitty Wines to the so-called mommy wines. Both the Wine Market Council and Nielsen have reams of data on why they should.

In the younger part of the Millennial group (age 21-26), a shocking 28% report that they drink wine daily. This drops to a still impressive 19% in their peers aged 27-36. They also consume more glasses of wine per occasion (surprise) than older generations.

Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, the parent company of Chateau Ste. Michelle, Michelle, and a number of other wineries and brands, has targeted Millennial women in a number of other ways recently, including its ‘My Chateau’ campaign last year. Earlier this year, the company also launched the Anew Riesling brand aimed at Millennial women. With this demographic continuing to grow, don’t look for the focus on this group to end any time soon.

Michelle Brut Rose Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $14
 (Good) A very pretty pale salmon color, this is an exuberantly aromatic wine with pomegranate, raspberries, and spice. The palate has tart, dry fruit flavors finishing a bit short. 93% Pinot Noir, 7% Pinot Meunier. 11.5% alcohol. 15,000 cases produced. Recommended Reviewed November 26 2013

Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $14
(Decent) A moderately aromatic wine with abundant pear, tropical notes, and spice. The palate is a straightforward, easy drinker without some of the acidic lift of some recent bottlings. 63% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, 18% Pinot Gris. 11.5% alcohol. 1.28g/100ml Residual Sugar. 175,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Michelle Extra Dry Sparkling Wine Columbia Valley NV $14
 (Decent) Moderately aromatic with abundant tropical fruit notes and spice. The palate is off-dry, lacking some of the acidic lift of recent vintages. 63% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir, 18% Pinot Gris. 11.0% alcohol. 2.18g/100ml Residual Sugar. 25,000 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley 2011 $12
 (Good) An aromatically intriguing wine with mint, dried sage, plum, berry, cherry, and rich milk chocolate riding over a layer of smokiness that would make you swear there’s Syrah in the bottle but there’s not.  The palate is soft and chocolaty with abundant cherry flavors, flattening out toward the finish initially before ramping up with a few hours open. 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Malbec. Aged 16 months in oak (33% new). 13.5% alcohol. Sample provided by winery.

Three Rivers River’s Red Wine Columbia Valley 2012 $14
(Good) This kitchen sink-style blend brings notes of underbrush, plum, and spice. It’s medium bodied with ripe fruit flavors and grainy, slightly dry tannins. A pleasant, easy drinker at the right price. 44% Merlot, 33% Sangiovese, 16% Syrah, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Lemberger. Aged 9 months in French oak (15% new). 14.5% alcohol. 8,620 cases produced. Sample provided by winery.

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