Private Tasting: Old Favorites Revisited

By Kori ~ December 18th, 2009.

2002 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve and 2001 Sebastiani Secolo Sonoma Red WineDuring this time of year when everyone is shopping and getting excited about the new “things” they’ll be getting for Christmas, I think that it is also important to spend time thinking about traditions and some of our favorite things from times past. When it comes to wine, two of our old favorites are the 2002 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve and the 2001 Sebastiani Secolo Sonoma Red Wine. Recently, we had what turned out to be a showdown between these old favorites in one of our double blind private tasting dinners. For a more complete description of how we set up these private tastings, please refer to How We Taste.

The Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve, a Bordeaux-style red blend, is the premier wine of Washington State’s largest winery. We have been fans of Columbia Crest, and their Walter Clore bottling in particular, since the early days of our wine journey. We have had the opportunity to taste each Walter Clore vintage produced by Ray Einberger, who has been the head winemaker at Columbia Crest since 2000, and have tasted several of them multiple times. Every vintage we have rated excellent or better [at least 4 stars (out of 5)] on the Wine Peeps scale. And since these wines can usually be found for $35 or less, they also have excellent QPRs. The 2002 vintage, in particular, was our favorite when we had a Walter Clore vertical tasting at the winery last year. If you’re looking for an exceptional Washington State Bordeaux-style wine at recession-friendly prices, the Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve is an excellent choice.

The Sebastiani Secolo is a Bordeaux-style red blend from Sonoma County, California. We were first introduced to this wine in 2004 in a restaurant in Newport, Rhode Island. My parents and I were there to attend the International Tennis Hall of Fame induction of my two favorite professional players, Steffi Graf and Stefan Edberg. One evening, we went to a local steak and seafood house on the water in Newport for dinner, and the sommelier recommended this wine. We loved it, and it paired extremely well with our surf and turf meal. We jotted down the name of the wine and made a point to visit Sebastiani on our next trip to Sonoma wine country. Each time I drink Sebastiani Secolo, I am transported back to Newport, Rhode Island, and once again enjoy the memories of that wonderful weekend.

Both of these wines were good; although, not as vibrant as when we first tasted them which is to be expected of 7 to 8 year old wines. However, both were still excellent food wines and paired well with Mom’s dinner of meatloaf, brown and white confetti rice, seasoned broccoli, and watermelon.

2002 Columbia Crest Walter Clore Private Reserve (Columbia Valley, Washington): 63% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Merlot. Dark, inky purple. Very aromatic with black fruits and pepper coming through on the nose. Blackberry, black cherry, pepper, and spice on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with crisp acidity and medium to high, drying tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Wine Exchange (California), $18; Available elsewhere, $22 to $42

2001 Sebastiani Secolo Sonoma Red Wine (Sonoma County, California): 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and 1% Malbec. Dark, inky purple. Aromas and flavors of black fruits and spice. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium to high tannins, and a long, slightly bitter finish. Remarkably jammy with lots of vibrant fruit for an 8 year old wine.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $30

Filed under: American Wine, California Wine, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. @nectarwine | December 18th, 2009 at 7:29 am

    The Columbia Crest sounds like an amazing value. Thanks for revisiting the favorites. Sometimes we move so fast on to the next thing we forget to take trips down memory lane with the wines that helped us fall in love in the first place.

    Josh @nectarwine (Twitter)

  2. @weeklywinejournal | December 18th, 2009 at 7:38 am

    I really enjoyed the 2005 Columbia Crest Grand Reserve Cabernet. When I went back to Costco the very next day to buy some more it was all gone! 🙁

  3. Kori | December 18th, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    It is fun to slow down for a trip down memory lane every once in a while. Good times!

    I agree, the 05 CC Rsv Cab is excellent. Definitely hard to find after it racked up the high scores and topped Wine Spectator’s list. Cheers!