Top Washington Cab Showdown: 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve vs. Quilceda Creek

By Kori ~ November 30th, 2009.

2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet SauvignonLast week, to celebrate Dad’s (John’s) birthday, we had what turned out to be a Washington Cabernet Sauvignon showdown in one of our double blind private tasting dinners featuring two highly-acclaimed wines from the 2005 vintage, the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste. Dad was the only one of the four of us who knew what the two wines were as he had set this tasting aside specifically for his birthday.

These wines are two of Washington State’s most celebrated right now. In case you haven’t already heard, the 2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon was recently named as the #1 wine of 2009 in Wine Spectator’s annual Top 100 Wines list, the first Washington wine to receive the honor. Meanwhile, the 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon received a 100-point rating by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, their third 100-point rating in four years.

Columbia Crest, located in Paterson, Washington, is the largest producer in the state. Regular Wine Peeps readers know that we have long been fans of Columbia Crest. Head winemaker Ray Einberger and his team continue to pump out great wines at great prices. Well-known for their Grand Estates and Two Vines lines, it is their Reserve line that puts them in the league with the premier producers in the state.

Quilceda Creek, located in Snohomish, Washington, was founded in 1978 by the Golitzin family. Generally considered the premier winery in Washington State, Quilceda Creek remains a small, family-owned and operated winery. Quilceda Creek wines are only offered to members of their private mailing list.

Both of these wines were outstanding and received a high 4.5 stars (out of 5) quality rating. They paired wonderfully with Mom’s dinner of shrimp Louie salad, prime rib, cilantro-lime mashed sweet potatoes, and seasoned green beans. We topped off Dad’s birthday celebration with my homemade pecan pie and French vanilla ice cream. While we gave both wines the same rating, three out of four of us gave a slight edge to the Columbia Crest Reserve.

2005 Columbia Crest Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep, dark purple in color and very aromatic. Aromas of blackberry, black cherry, oak, spice, and a hint of cayenne pepper lead to flavors of blackberry, black currant, and chocolate. Full-bodied with good acidity, high tannins, and a very long finish. Well-balanced and extremely smooth.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR:  5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $27 [sold out]

2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): Dark, dense purple. Very aromatic with black fruits, beef jerky, leather, bacon, fried okra, and a hint of asparagus on the nose. More black fruits, bacon, and earth come through on the palate. Full-bodied and smooth with high, drying tannins, and a very long finish. Well-balanced.
Quality: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $125 [sold out]

Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Sauvignon, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25

Reader's Comments

  1. @nectarwine | November 30th, 2009 at 8:16 am

    Thanks for reviewing these. Wish I could get my hands on a bottle of the Columbia Crest. Looking forward to visiting their winery. Is that a misprint on the price of the Quilceda Creek? $125 and a 5 bang for your buck rating? Just checking. WA Cabs are amazing!


  2. Robert Dwyer | November 30th, 2009 at 10:06 am

    What a great blind tasting comparison- thanks for sharing. I’ve never tasted Quilceda Creek, but I totally agree Columbia Crest delivers consistent value.

    Somehow, I’ve just now discovered your blog and have added it to my feed reader. Looks like a lot of great content that I’m interested in.


  3. Ghost Pines Wine Steward | November 30th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Excellent choice to use Cab to celebrate your father’s birthday! Out of all the world’s wines, Cabernet Sauvignon is king, and it seems as though these days Napa and Sonoma wines are very “in” (I represent Ghost Pines, and our Napa/Sonoma mix Cab is a bestselling varietal). The sweet aromas, superb dark fruit, and ripe, chewy tannins allow wine lovers to find real personality in the wine – I find Cab to be the most consistently rewarding of the Bordeaux varieties, personally, especially when paired with the appropriate meal.

  4. Greg | December 1st, 2009 at 8:34 am

    A 5 QPR for the QC Cab seems a bit high. This is one of the more expensive Cabs you’ve rated 4.5, and probably not within the < 50% price of its peers criterion. Is QC's peer group really $250+ Cab-based wines? It does seem producer reputation is being factored in to the QPR a bit as 2 or 3 seems more appropriate for the price range.

  5. Kori | December 2nd, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    Josh and Greg,
    The 5 bangs QPR rating for Quilceda Creek is neither a misprint nor a rating based on reputation. The peer group for both of these wines is not limited to just Washington but all West Coast Cabs. So a $125 Cab with a 4.5 stars quality rating is still less than half the price of its peers.

    So glad you’ve discovered our blog. Thanks for reading!


  6. Wine Reviews: What Kind Do You Prefer? (Part II) — | June 27th, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    […] review that was preferred by the most commenters was #2, which was written here on Wine Peeps on November 30, 2009 by Kori. I thought Gary best summed up this review in his comment: “I appreciate the descriptive but […]