Columbia Crest H3 Cabernet Sauvignon 2008
Founded in 1983, Columbia Crest has grown from a small winery in a relatively unknown wine region to one of the most significant wineries in the U.S. and a major force behind Washington state's emergence as a world-class wine region. Over the years, the winery has remained committed to delivery handcrafted, small-lot wines, as well as affordable, superior quality everyday wines. In 2009, the winery reached a milestone when Wine Spectator named their 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon "Wine of the Year," the first time a wine from Washington state has received the ranking. This accolade was not only a historic moment for Columbia Crest, but for all wineries in Washington and reinforced the belief that the region is among the best wine-producing areas in the world.
A large and geographically diverse AVA capable of producing a wide variety of wine styles, the Columbia Valley AVA is home to 99% of Washington state’s total vineyard area. A small section of the AVA even extends into northern Oregon!
Because of its size, it is necessarily divided into several distinctive sub-AVAs, including Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley—which are both further split into smaller, noteworthy appellations. A region this size will of course have varied microclimates, but on the whole it experiences extreme winters and long, hot, dry summers. Frost is a common risk during winter and spring. The towering Cascade mountain range creates a rain shadow, keeping the valley relatively rain-free throughout the entire year, necessitating irrigation from the Columbia River. The lack of humidity combined with sandy soils allows for vines to be grown on their own rootstock, as phylloxera is not a serious concern.
Red wines make up the majority of production in the Columbia Valley. Cabernet Sauvignon is the dominant variety here, where it produces wines with a pleasant balance of dark fruit and herbs. Wines made from Merlot are typically supple, with sweet red fruit and sometimes a hint of chocolate or mint. Syrah tends to be savory and Old-World-leaning, with a wide range of possible fruit flavors and plenty of spice. The most planted white varieties are Chardonnay and Riesling. These range in style from citrus and green apple dominant in cooler sites, to riper, fleshier wines with stone fruit flavors coming from the warmer vineyards.
Washington produces so many exciting wines, and that definitely includes Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. With over 10,000 acres under vine, Cabernet Sauvignon is now the most widely-grown varietal in the state. Terrific examples hail from sub-appellations like Red Mountain, Wahluke Slope, Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla Valley. One of the fascinations of these Columbia Valley Cabs is that they so often seem to have one foot in the New World and one in the Old. Representing the former are characteristics like the ripe, forward fruit that results from long sunny days during the growing season (up to two hours longer than in much of California). Old World similarities include an undeniable brightness from acidity, as well as notes of herbs, graphite and a dusty, sometimes gravelly minerality.
Whether you’re looking for a budget bottle for everyday enjoyment, or a stellar, world-class wine with tremendous aging potential, Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wines can deliver the goods! Among the many fine options are bottles from Columbia Crest, Chateau Ste. Michelle, L’ecole #41, Quilceda Creek and Leonetti.