Monday, October 09, 2006

Columbia Crest Reserves

I have had a lot of experience with Columbia Crest over the years. In fact, I was first introduced to Columbia Crest in 1994, when I was working as a dining room manager and was in charge of the wine list. We poured Columbia Crest Chardonnay by the glass with a lot of success. This was before the boom in wine sales of the mid- to late-90s, and people were really unaware of Washington State wines. The style of the wine at the time was, as it remains today, a partially barrel aged wine that has a lot of the fresh qualities Chard flavors preserved. This wine has always had great balance and fairly bold flavors.

Over the years, Columbia Crest has expanded and improved their quality to the point where I believe they are one of the finest all-around wineries in the United States. Making wines at all price levels and maintaining the highest standards at all of those levels is not easily accomplished. The folks at Columbia Crest have managed to due just that, though.

The proof is their yearly reviews in all of the major wine press. Columbia Crest consistently out scores their competition, even at the lower price ranges. They also present remarkable wines at the higher end of their scale. Are they at the point of being able to compete with the best from Napa? Perhaps not, but taking price into consideration - they certainly hold their own. I would suggest anyone looking for a world-class wine open a bottle of the 2003, Walter Clore Private Reserve Red, or better yet, open abottle of the 2004, Syrah Reserve. Impressive winemaking from the hills of Washington State.

tasted 9-22-06

In Washington State "Reserve" means less than 10% of varietal output from a winery.

2004, Syrah Reserve Columbia Valley (Horse Heaven Hills)

  • touch of viognier (0.25% according to company website)
  • purply / black
  • big, smoky, dark blackberry nose with vanilla spices
  • really fleshy and smooth on the nose
  • finishes with minty and smoky spices mixed in good length
  • (2++)

2002, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Columbia Valley (Wahluke Slope, Cold Creek, Horse Heaven Hills)

  • dark color
  • soft and well integrated
  • nice drinking wine
  • minty and fleshy
  • some dry tannins
  • (1+)

2003, Merlot Reserve Columbia Valley (Wahluke Slope, Cold Creek, Horse Heaven Hills)

  • dark garnet red/black
  • charred and smoky aromas on the nose
  • fleshy but tannic
  • charred flavors overwhelm the fruit
  • (1)

2003, Walter Clore Private Reserve Red (Wahluke Slope, Cold Creek, Horse Heaven Hills)

  • blend: 56.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 36.2% Merlot, 7.3% Cabernet Franc
  • dark color
  • aromas of Twizzlers, vanilla, but with some alcohol
  • really smooth
  • fat style with some tannins
  • Big - needs some time
  • (2+)

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