Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wine Blogging Wednesday #34: Washington State Cabernet

Welcome to Wine Blogging Wednesday #34, the online virtual tasting event dreamed up by Lenn Thompson of Lenndevours and hosted this month by Catie over at Through the Walla Walla Grape Vine.

Catie picked a great theme for this month's event: Washington State Cabernet Sauvignon. I've had a few cabs from this region, and have always liked them, but this was my first opportunity to try to explain why. And though Catie encouraged us to look beyond Columbia Crest and Chateau Ste. Michelle, I had a hard time locating a cab by anyone else in my neck of the woods. I checked four stores, but then threw my hands up in defeat and opened something in the closet.

What I opened was the 2003 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon Indian Wells ($13.99, Costco). Indian Wells is an area in central Washington that extends from the Wahluke Slope to Cold Creek along the Columbia River. It was a dark, inky purple-red in color. Warm aromas of spice, currant, and tobacco leaf were interesting and inviting--especially for a cabernet at this price point. Flavors of red currant, blackberry, herbs, and more warm spices followed through on the promising aromas. The well-integrated tannins made for a plush drinking experience, which was round and fruit-forward without becoming a characterless fruit bomb. This wine had excellent QPR for a cabernet sauvignon, and I would definitely buy it again if I saw it.

What impressed me most about this wine was its balance. Though fruity and rich it was not heavy, oaky, or demanding like some California Cabs can be. It was easy to pair with food, especially food with an earthy or smoky edge like smoked apple chicken sausage and some mashed potatoes. Most cabernets seem to demand beef for me, but this wine didn't. It would be good with a steak, don't get me wrong, but think of things that are grilled or smoked as well. They'd be great with this wine.

Thanks to Catie for such a great theme--and I'm sorry I couldn't find a more exotic bottling. I will try to seek out more Washington cabs based on this experience. As always, I'll have a link to the roundup of all tasting notes when its completed, and an announcement about WBW #35 as soon as it is posted.


Anonymous said...

I, too, had an impossible time finding wines from this region in the entire Greater LA wine store community. I did find a couple, but it was a pain in the arse.

David said...

add another one to the list! I read an article awhile back about WA cabs only to find them difficult to turn up...this WBW encourages me to keep looking!

Unknown said...

For such a large winery, I'm constantly astounded by the quality of the wines produced by Ste. Michelle/Columbia Crest. I've had the Indian Wells Cab, and it is a smokin' good deal. It trumps many cabs that are twice the price.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi JB and David. I could not believe that it was so hard to find a Washington Cab! I wasn't prepared so ended up four stores later in a bit of a scramble and out of time. But John is right--this wine was really, really good. OK, a common brand, but a stunningly good value, or at least I thought so!

Anonymous said...

There are great Cabernets from Washington at that price point. 2004 Waterbrook out of Walla Walla, 2004 Kestrel Vintners out of Yakima, 2005 Barnard Griffin out of the tri-cities.Check out their websites for where their wines our located. It's worth a try.