December Virtual Tasting - Ch. Ste Michelle Indian Wells Cabernet Sauvignon 2005

Chateau Ste. Michelle, located in Woodinville, Washington, was founded as American Wine Company in 1954. The company's foundation was the result of a merger between the National Wine Company, which dated back to 1934, and Pomerelle Wine Company. This makes Chateau Ste. Michelle the oldest winery in Washington. Chateau Ste. Michelle has an annual production of over 600,000 cases and is the largest single producer of Riesling in the world.

Chateau Ste. Michelle has the following tiers of wine: Ethos; Artist Series; Single Vineyards; Indian Wells Series; Columbia Valley; Eroica. While the name might seem to indicate a single vineyard, the Indian Wells Cabernet is composed of fruit from a variety of vineyards in the Columbia Valley, including Chateau Ste Michelle's own Indian Wells Vineyard.

I liked this wine quite a bit. At a $15 price point which I picked it up for on sale, having a wine that you can think about, talk about, and that evolves is a pleasure. In terms of food, I am thinking it would probably go well with red meat (which I don't eat) or a piquant red sauce with pasta. That said, it is a fairly aggressive wine that would not go well with more delicate food which it would probably overwhelm.

Due to the inclement weather in Seattle, some folks who were supposed to join me for a live tasting took part via Skype bringing the Virtual Tasting to a whole new level. Hopefully the weather will be better in January.

Note: I caught this wine right at the change of vintages where the 2006 came out. Apologies for that. If you tried the 2006, please post your notes up and let us know how it was.

To see notes from other Virtual Tastings, click on the links below.

November 2008 Virtual Tasting

October 2008 Virtual Tasting

September 2008 Virtual Tasting

August 2008 Virtual Tasting







Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Indian Wells 2005

Dark and opaque in color, there is black pepper, anise, and cherry along with a pine note. Quite woody and tannin driven. After an hour of decanting, there is a lot of jammy fruit and a clove component that comes out. The tannins settle down quite a bit. Overall an enjoyable wine. 14.2% alcohol.

34, 000 cases produced. Purchased at Safeway for $15. Recommended.


Sean P. Sullivan


  1. Delightful nose, with hints of pepper and dark cherry; coupled with a drinkable price!

  2. They did not have the '05 at my local market, so I tried the '06. Nice nose. I could really smell the fruit, and a hint of clove. It has a nice round body. Was not a match with the snapper we had for dinner, but went nicely with the dark chocolate after. I taste currant, clove and dark fruit. I like its smoothness, balanced acid, drinkability. I prefer a wine with brighter fruit, but thought this would be a nice match with meat or a saucy entree.

  3. *

    Hugely expressive nose of blackberry jam and milk chocolate, along with alluring hints of banana and orange. Given the giant nose, I expected this to be a total fruit bomb, but it wasn't. It was rich and fruit-forward, but I didn't find it to be sweet or over-the-top at all. On the palate, great acid for a cab, along with moderate, chalky tannins. I got some red fruit flavors up front, fading to a finish of more chocolate and bananas. This was a generous, hedonistic, gem of a wine and a ridiculous bargain at $13. I'm pretty sure it's the best cab under $15 that I have tasted. Wow; I'm impressed.

  4. Well, since I tasted this wine with Sean, and we discussed it, I'm afraid I don't have a lot to add to what he said.

    Confectioner's sugar and black pepper and black cherry nose; very dark, opaque purple maroon in color. Quite compelling both in appearance and nose. Initial taste was very peppery and woody; lots of tannin. So Sean decanted it and let it sit for a while.

    Returning to it a few minutes later, I found distinctive notes of clove and raspberry jam.

    For this price, this is one interesting, fun, impressive wine.